Between the United Nations building and Long Island City sits a tiny 100-by-200 foot piece of land, known as U Thant Island. The East River man-made enclave is just south of Roosevelt Island and legally part of Manhattan. As Atlas Obscura discovered, the land did not exist until the 1800s when a trolley tunnel was dug beneath the River to connect Manhattan and Queens. While U Thant looks like a nice place to get some sun and relax, the island remains closed to the public as a bird sanctuary.
In 2004, a local artist Duke Riley rowed to the island on a boat with a friend and proclaimed U Thant Island as a sovereign nation.
Riley hoisted a 21-foot-long pennant that showed two electric eels.
The duo was later apprehended by the US Coast Guard, but not arrested. Riley used the stunt as a piece in his video, Belmont Island.
He was escorted off the island by members of the Coast Guard, who apparently didn’t recognize the statehood of the young country.
The island isn’t off-limits because of its colorful past. A restriction is because of its new inhabitants, an eclectic set of migratory birds.
U Thant Island is now enjoying a third life as a bird sanctuary. A flock of double-breasted cormorants is a permanent installment on the oneness arch.
The island is off-limits to protect the birds’ habitat, so it means that you can get arrested by the Coast Guard if you attempt to make landfall on it.
It’s a shame, seriously. A chunk of land like that could go for millions on the city’s housing market.
Images source: providr.com