Randall's Island is situated in the East River in New York City, part of the borough of Manhattan . It is separated from Manhattan island on the west by the river's main channel, from Queens on the east by the Hell Gate, and from the Bronx on the north by the Bronx Kill. It is joined to Ward's Island on the south by landfill. Together, the two islands form New York County's Census Tract 240, which had a total population of 1,386 living on 2.2 km² of land area, according to the United States Census, 2000. Administratively, it is part of the borough of Manhattan.
Native Americans called it Minnahanonck. It was purchased from the Indians in 1637 by Dutch Governor Wouter Van Twiller and used for farming. John Montresor, an engineer with the British army, purchased the island in 1772. He lived on it, now renamed Montresor's Island, with his wife until the Revolutionary War forced him to deploy. The British used his island to launch amphibious attacks on Manhattan, and Montresor's house there was burned in 1777. He resigned his commission and returned to England in 1778, but retained ownership of the island until the British evacuated the city in 1783 and it was confiscated. It was purchased by Jonathan Randel (or Randal) in 1784, at which time it acquired its familiar name, if with different spelling. His heirs sold it to the city in 1835 for $60,000.
In the 19th century, Randall's Island became home to an orphan asylum, poor house, burial ground for the poor, idiot asylum, homeopathic hospital and rest home for Civil War veterans. It was also site of the New York House of Refuge, a reform school completed in 1854 for juvenile delinquents or juveniles adjudicated as vagrants.
Randall's Island Sports Foundation (RISF) was founded in 1992 as a public-private partnership to work on behalf of Randall's Island Park. The Foundation, in conjunction with City leadership, works to develop sports and recreational facilities, restore its natural environment, reclaim and maintain parkland, and sponsor programs for children. RISF's signature facility on Randall's Island, Icahn Stadium, was opened on April 23, 2005. The Stadium, a world-class track & field facility, is capable of hosting local, regional and national events.
66 fields will be available following redevelopment and will accommodate a greater variety of sports, including football, lacrosse, field hockey, and rugby amongst the sports already played at the Park, soccer, baseball and softball. The project will help satisfy demand for playing fields by the City's youth and adult leagues. The City's total ball field inventory will increase by 5% and Manhattan's inventory will increase by approximately 30%.
RISF also runs its free Randall's Island Kids (RIK) youth programs at the Park. Working with over 120 local public schools and community-based organizations in East Harlem and the South Bronx, RIK brings thousands of children to the Park each year for a range of free sports and environmental education activities year- round. In addition, RISF hosts RIK CAMP, a free six-week long summer camp that also brings thousands children from the neighboring communities to the Park every summer. The increase in field availability will allow more public use of the Island and provide for expansion of RIK program.
As part of the improvements on the Island, two natural environments, a salt marsh and a freshwater wetland, have been established. Through the process of excavating over 20,000 cubic yards (15,000 m3) of debris, installing clean sand, and planting native marsh grasses, 4 acres (16,000 m2) of salt marsh has been created surrounding the Little Hell Gate Inlet on the western edge of the Island. Just across from the salt marsh, 4 acres (16,000 m2) of freshwater wetlands were also restored. After the removal of almost 15,000 cubic yards (11,000 m3) of debris and fill, the freshwater wetland site was planted with native herbaceous, shrub, and tree species, such as switchgrass, aster, dogwood, and oak. In addition, the restoration projects play a crucial role in an innovative Park-wide filtration system that collects storm water from the adjacent sports fields, pathways and paved areas and channels it through the Wetlands, where the new plants naturally filter pollutants before reaching the East River and the Long Island Sound.
A newly renovated Randall's Island Golf Center opened in 2008. The new 25-acre (Template:Rnd/c6dec0 m2) $500,000 renovation will have a two-tier indoor/outdoor, 82-stall driving range, 320 yards (290 m) of landing area, a 36-hole mini-golf course, grass tees, a short game area with sand bunker, PGA instructors, and 9 batting cages.
Future plans include a 20-court state-of-the-art Tennis Center, a Visitors/Nature Center, additional pathway sections, and extensive environmental restoration. Programming at Randall's Island includes visits by Cirque du Soleil and summer concert series.
RISF's Management, Restoration & Development Plan is being carried out through a calibrated balance of individual, corporate and foundation philanthropy and public funding, alongside private investment in facilities planned to generate much-needed revenue toward Park maintenance.
The Robert F. Kennedy Bridge complex, whose hub is located on the island, provides vehicular and pedestrian access from the boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. The railroad viaduct approach to the Hell Gate Bridge passes overhead. The Ward's Island Bridge leads to Manhattan. The island is home to the New York City Fire Department's training academy and some other public facilities. Most of the island, however, is a city park.
In 2008 Randall's Island hosted a variety of events, including the Nike Human+Race on August 31. Over 10,000 runners participated in a 10k race course that circled the Island and concluded in Icahn Stadium. The race was followed by a concert featuring the All-American Rejects on the Harlem River Event site.
On May 31, 2008, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt broke the world record for the men's 100-meter dash at the Fourth Annual Reebok Grand Prix with a "lightning" speed time of 9.72 seconds. Bolt's win brought the packed house of over 6,000 people to their feet.
- ↑  U.S. Census Bureau
- ↑ Brick, Michael (April 24, 2005). "Children Celebrate Opening of Stadium". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/24/nyregion/24ichan.html. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
- ↑ Longman, Jeré (June 1, 2008). "Jamaican Sets World Record in 100 Meters at 9.72". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/sports/othersports/01track.html. Retrieved 2008-11-27.