Award is Just the Latest Recognition of RIOC’s Remarkable Multimillion-Dollar Restoration Work on the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Tower

Roosevelt Island, NY, March 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) President & CEO Shelton J. Haynes today announced the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse has been awarded the 2023 Rehabilitation Award from the FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, one of Manhattan’s premiere independent, not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating the architectural legacy of the Upper East Side community. The Rehabilitation Award was given in appreciation of RIOC’s “thoughtful and meticulously detailed preservation work” to the important Landmark structure, which was also recently recognized by the New York Landmarks Conservancy with their Lucy G. Moses 2022 Preservation Project Award.  

“It is very rewarding to see all of the hard work that was put into restoring the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Tower get the recognition it deserves from some of New York’s most storied organizations, including the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts,” said President & CEO Shelton J. Haynes. “Preserving our rich history is paramount to me, our RIOC Board, and the entire RIOC team, as is a shared commitment to maintaining the unique beauty of our island. This restoration project manages to do both; we’ve preserved the storied lighthouse for future generations, while giving it a beautiful facelift that residents and tourists alike will enjoy.

FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts added, “The restoration of the Roosevelt Island lighthouse reflects a true preservation undertaking in its sourcing of historic documents to guide both the conservation of the historic fabric and the design of the new octagonal lantern. The meticulous restoration and site improvements will allow New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy this landmark anew and makes it a project perfectly aligned with FRIENDS of the Upper East Side’s mission to preserve and celebrate the architectural legacy and sense of place of the Upper East Side. We applaud Thomas Fenniman and RIOC for their work.”

Mr. Haynes added, “I want to personally thank the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts for this thoughtful acknowledgement of our collective effort. The completion of this project was many years in the making, and everyone who had a hand in getting it across the finish line shares today in this honor.”  

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, upon receiving approval from the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors, invested $3.1 million in restoring the 50-foot lighthouse, which was originally built in 1872 and had deteriorated significantly over many decades. Scope of work for the project included brick, stone, and window removal, door restoration, and modifications to the Lighthouse lantern and observation deck, including: 

  1. Removing the deteriorated concrete deck. 
  2. Installing a new concrete ring beam and fluid-applied waterproofing. 
  3. Installing a new stainless steel observation deck and railing. 
  4. Installing a new glass and structural steel lantern. 
  5. Removal of the wood stairs and installation of a new metal spiral staircase and new electrical and accent lighting. 
  6. Site improvements at the Lighthouse include resetting and installing new stone pavers and curb stones, a new concrete beam curb, and new recessed ground lighting and controls.  

"I am incredibly proud of the work done to restore the lighthouse and am thrilled that this project is getting the recognition it so rightly deserves,” said Prince Shah, Director of Capital Planning & Projects for RIOC. “This project has been a top priority for our community for many years, and to see it finally come together in such a spectacular way could not be more gratifying. We will continue to do all we can to ensure future capital projects are just as successful in centering the history and natural beauty of the island.”   

The Roosevelt Island community, along with the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the island annually, can now enjoy this beautiful beacon in the heart of the East River just as the warm spring months emerge.   

About the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Tower:  

Constructed in 1872 by penitentiary inmates with stone extracted from the island, the Lighthouse was originally designed by James Renwick Jr., architect of the Smallpox Hospital and the Smithsonian Institute. The East River channel's huge granite boulders made it very treacherous for ships to navigate, so the Lighthouse was commissioned as part of a solution for New York City's shipping ports, along with an Army Corps of Engineers project to widen and deepen the channel. Above the waters of the East River, at the northernmost stretch of Roosevelt Island, shines the fifty-foot-high Lighthouse. 

About Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC):  

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) was created in 1984 by the State of New York as a public benefit corporation with a mission to plan, design, develop, operate, and maintain Roosevelt Island. With a focus on innovative and environmentally friendly solutions, RIOC is committed to providing services that enhance the island's residential community. RIOC manages the two-mile-long island's roads, parks, buildings, a sports facility, and public transportation, including the iconic aerial tramway. Additionally, RIOC operates a Public Safety Department that helps maintain a safe and secure environment for residents, employees, business owners, and visitors. 


Akeem H. Jamal
Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
(212) 832-4540

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