The Beginning

Roosevelt Island, located between Manhattan and Queens in the East River, has undergone numerous changes both in name and use and been passed to numerous owners in its recent history. Originally it was called Minnahanonck or "nice island" by the Native Americans of the Hudson Channel. 

Original Purchase

In 1633, the Dutch Governor of the Hudson convinced the Canarsie Indians to sell him lands that included Roosevelt Island. The island was then used for farming foods such as hogs; hence they called it Varckens Eylandt or "Hog Island." Eventually the British defeated the Dutch, seizing control of lands in America. King James II gave his sheriff of New York, Captain John Manning, Varckens Island.

The island was subsequently passed down within Manning's family and in 1796 his grandson James Blackwell had a clapboard cottage built on his island. Now the home is landmarked and known as Blackwell House.