Most people have never heard of it, but there is a tiny 100-by-200-foot island on the East River called U Thant Island. It’s right below Roosevelt Island and next to the United Nations headquarters and has more history per square foot than most places in Manhattan.
Its origin dates back to the late 19th century when construction of an underground tunnel produced a tiny mound of rock. This tiny mound was originally called Belmont Island, named after August Belmont Jr., who financed the construction project.
In the intervening years it was leased by a Buddhist spiritual group, crashed into by numerous vessels, and briefly occupied by a protesting artist.
Watch the video above to learn more about U Thant and to see me fall in East River attempting to canoe out to it.