I found a couple of videos online the depict The Roosevelt Island Tramway around 1980. (The picture below of the tram arriving in Manhattan dates from 2006, as I couldn’t find any vintage public domain photos.)
The first video I am linking to here was posted by Richard Cortell; he completed it as a long ago student project for The New York Institute of Technology. Parts of the video are quite dark, but it’s still a terrific glimpse in New York City’s past.
The second video is also Cortell’s; this one is dated 1980. It focuses more on life on Roosevelt Island — the tram is seen only at the beginning and end.
I’ve never been on the tram — or to Roosevelt Island. But just seeing it brings back memories of my early childhood. My Dad used to occasionally take me on trips to New York City, and I remember seeing it depart from 60th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan. I was pretty damned awed by it.
But I didn’t ask to ride on it. My Dad took me to all sorts of places in NYC that were fun for a kid, but the sight of that hanging tram car made me pretty apprehensive. Hell, I’m not sure I’d want to ride it as an adult. (There was a malfunction in 2006 that left 80 people trapped up there for around 90 minutes.)
I didn’t know it at the time, but the tram would have actually been relatively new at the time that I saw it (and at about the same time Cortell filmed his videos). It opened in July of 1976.
Postscript — there is actually a shot of the tram in that old “Million Dollar Movie” intro that everyone loves. It’s right at the start, five seconds in.
Photo credit: Kris Arnold from New York, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons