The word, ‘cruise,’ may be a misnomer here, as it is likely to conjure images of peaceful emerald waters and lush tropical destinations. In the case of this little known but weirdly fascinating New York tourist attraction, ‘cruise’ denotes a four-hour tour that covers New York’s little known cluster of small islands along the East River, each of which has its own almost forgotten history. These include: Roosevelt Island Randall’s, Riker's and Hart’s Islands.

There is no other New York tour like this one.

These New York islands served as ‘throw away and forget about’ repositories for those who were considered unfit to live among the city’s already bursting population.

They were used for quarantine, confinement or punishment. This included the city’s indigent; the mentally ill; criminals and Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary, who was confined for many years and died in a sanitarium located on Northern Brother Island in 1938.

Here’s a little history about these New York islands

Blackwell’s Island has been known by several names, including Welfare Island, and since 1971, as the residential community of Roosevelt Island. At one time, it housed an asylum; a prison, a hospital for the poor and a quarantine hospital for smallpox victims. Hart Island was a prisoner-of-war camp for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War; a tuberculosis sanatorium and the site of the largest, tax-funded potter’s field (45 acres) in the world, where more than a million people are anonymously buried.

Although once separate, Randall’s and Ward’s Islands are now adjacent to each other. They share a similar history as their other island kin, serving as hospitals, cemeteries, and asylums. Today, the islands house several homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals, a police and fire station, and a waste-water treatment plant.

The Water Table is known as 'Brooklyn’s First Dinner Boat.’

Water Table tour creators, managing partner and first mate, Sue Walsh, and founder, Captain Kelli Farwell, have transformed this World War II vessel into a New England-type tavern, offering gourmet-quality lunches of either Lobster Mac and Cheese or Kale Caesar Salad and desert with cocktails.

The tour departs from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, at the India Street pier, which during the week marks the spot where those who work across the East River board ferries headed for downtown and midtown office destinations.

In the words of Sue Walsh: “Brooklyn is more than just a geographic location. It is also an adjective, and a dining experience on a boat reflects what people in Brooklyn are looking for right now.”

The Water Table’s next tour is next week.

While it’s too late to buy tickets for this up-and-coming New York tourist attraction, which is slated for 11-3:00 PM on Sunday, August 21st, its fair game to watch for information when the one after that will take place. Current cost per person is $110 Early Bird / $125 General.

Price covers the cruise, lunch, dessert and unlimited beer.

All in all, the Water Table offers a unique cruise experience and one that will be remembered for years to come.

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