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U Thant Island, or officially Belmont Island, is a tiny 100 x 200 foot (30 x 60 metre) artificial island in New York City's East River, just to the south of Roosevelt Island. It lies across from United Nations headquarters at 42nd Street, and is legally considered a part of the Borough of Manhattan and New York County. The islet is currently protected as a sanctuary for migrating birds, including a small colony of Double-crested Cormorant, and access is prohibited to the public.

 

The island has its origins in the 1890s as a side-effect of the construction by William Steinway, of piano manufacturer Steinway & Sons, of trolley tunnels under the river to link bustling Manhattan to his eponymous company town in Steinway, Queens. The island was built up on the existing granite outcrop Man-o'-War Reef with excess landfill from a shaft dug down the reef to the tunnels. But Steinway died before his tunnels' completion, and it was financier August Belmont, Jr. who finished the project in 1907, leaving the finished islet as a bonus. The Steinway Tunnels are still in use as part of the 7-Flushing Line (see for construction details) in the New York Subway, and trains still pass directly beneath the island many times a day. Belmont Island, after the financier, became (and remains) the legal name of the island.

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