If you look at the map of evacuation zones New York City is sharing with New Yorkers to let them know which of the city’s coastal areas are most at risk should Hurricane Irene live up to the hype and deliver a disaster on Saturday and Sunday, you might not notice right away that only one of the large islands in the city’s waterways is uncoded: A rather substantial white form, like a little Greenland, sitting in the place where the East River and Long Island Sound blend, just northwest of LaGuardia Airport in the bay between the Bronx and Queens.
West of that large shape are a couple of tiny ones, also uncoded. Those are uninhabited. The large white shape, however, is home to about 12,000 people, though that number fluctuates. That shape is Rikers Island, site of five of the city’s prisons. (To find it more easily on the Times map linked to above, enter “Rikers Island, Bronx, NY 10474” in the “Go to Your Address” form in the legend.) Continue reading