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This abandoned island is connected to New York City by tunnels but no one is allowed to visit

New York City is huge but every inch of it can be visited by anyone.

But there’s one exception.

It’s a small inhabited island that’s right there, you can see it, but no one is allowed to visit.


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The small abandoned island is connected to NYC by tunnels but it’s forbidden to go there.

And, as well as the waters of the East River off New York City – mystery swirls around the uninhabited islet.

Known as Belmont Island or U Thant Island, it measures just 30.48 x 60.96 m (100-by-200 ft), and it is an artificial island.

The abandoned island is covered in a patch of overgrown weeds, but there’s also a metal structure rising up from its surface.

However, despite islands like ‘Billionaire’s Island’, Necker Island and MrBeast’s abandoned island that was won by a subscriber being highly valued – nobody is making bank on this plot.

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Not formed naturally – like this futuristic design for a floating city in China – the artificial and abandoned island was created due to tunnels built in the late 1800s.


William Steinway, the famed piano maker, began a project in 1890.

The aim was to create a tunnel for trolleys that would link up his company town of Steinway Village in Astoria, Queens, under the East River.

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A shaft was created in a granite outcrop, known as the Man-o’-Reef outcrop, to reach the tunnels.

Sadly, the man behind the project and the pianos, Steinway, never got to see his dream completed.

He died before it was finished and the project was taken over 10 years later by August Belmont Jr.

Belmont Jr., of Belmont Park and subway financier fame, completed the job and naming rights.

The project was finished between 1905 and 1907.

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The islet formed from construction waste rubble floating up to the reef.

Tragedy struck in 1906, shortly before the project was completed.

A compressed air pipe burst, killing four workers inside the tunnel.

Two died from of suffocation and decompression sickness, while the other two drowned.

The project foreman and his assistant descended over 6 m( 20 ft) into the tunnel in a bid to save workers.

Wikimedia CommonsWikimedia Commons

They were able to rescue two workers and remove the bodies of the two men who died due to decompression sickness.

Sadly the bodies of the pair who drowned still lie at the bottom of the tunnel.

Fast forward seven decades and a Buddhist group went on to rent control of the island in 1977.

In 1977, when a Buddhist group went on to rent control of the islet, it was unofficially renamed U Thant Island by a group of U.N. employees.

The name was inspired by the former U.N. Secretary General from Burma.

They were allowed onto the island twice a year to take care of the greenery.

However, increased security meant that by the mid-1990s, visits had virtually ceased.

Access to the New York City island is currently prohibited to the public.

The half-acre is maintained by the New York City parks department as a sanctuary, allowing migrating birds to lay.

Look closely from the coast of Manhattan and Queens and you can see small birds perched on the island.

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