William Tell in New York at the Big Apple
New York has a new attraction just 17 miles from the iconic Statue of Liberty. In the middle of the sea lies the small Rat Island, where Wilhelm Tell and his son Walter recently lived.
Behind the art campaign is the well-known Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter, who came up with this brilliant idea together with the Insel owner Alex Schibli and the Swiss Roland Veit.
Since August 2016, a copy of the Altdorfer Tell monument, Wilhelm Tell with his son Walter, has stood here right in front of the Bronx in New York.
But not only that, they even came up with the idea of giving Wilhelm Tell his own address on the island “1291 Wilhelm Tell Square”.
The Bronx authorities were enthusiastic and supported the project with quick approvals, so that the statue could be inaugurated in time for the 725th Swiss National Day on August 1st, 2016.
You can’t see Tell from Manhattan, but you can take a boat to this tiny island. If you have a question for Tell, you can even send him mail. A mailbox has been set up on Rat Island for this purpose and is emptied regularly. This letter is then answered by the project partners.
Wilhelm Tell, a folk hero of Switzerland. Its story takes place in what is now Central Switzerland and dates back to 1307. Tell is a central figure in Swiss patriotism as established during the post-Napoleonic era restoration of the Confederacy. Tell has been considered Switzerland’s national hero since the end of the 19th century.
According to mcat-test-centers, Rat Island is a private island off New York City. It is approximately 80 by 50 meters and is located in City Island Harbor, midway between City Island and Hart Island.
Rat Island was used by the New Yorkers in 1800 as a typhoid quarantine hospital for about 40 infected people. The remains of cobblestone walls and foundations from that period are still present here. But because of the many storm surges, the island was abandoned again. Local legends say that there used to be a lighthouse here.
New York City bought the island in 1888. It was used as a mini-colony for writers and artists in the early 20th century. In 1908 the island was bought by Dr. Bought HA Parmentier who leases it to the Mount Vernon Club. In 1972 the island went to Edmund “Red” Brennen. In March 2009, Brennen sold Rat Island for $300,000. On September 26, 2011, The New York Times published an article about the island and stated that the property will be auctioned on October 2, 2011. She was then sold for almost $200,000 to Swiss Alex Schibli, who initially had no specific use for Rat Island.
In August 2016, on the 725th Swiss National Day, Alex Schibli, together with the Swiss artist Gerry Hofstetter and the Swiss Roland Veit, had a statue of the Swiss freedom fighter Wilhelm Tell (the original is in Altdorf, Uri, Switzerland) erected on the island. Since then, New York has gained another attraction.
Rat Island is the only privately owned island of New York’s 44 islands. At high tide it can happen that this island is up to half smaller.
William Tell statue on Rat Island
The statue was built after the original, which is located in Altdorf, Switzerland. Like this statue, it is four meters tall, but compared to the original (10 tons) it weighs considerably less, only 600 kilograms. This statue, together with the Statue of Liberty, is intended to stand for the common ground between the USA and Switzerland in terms of democracy, freedom and independence. Together, both statues are intended to strengthen human rights and basic values of humanity. So both father and son Tell are looking in the direction of the Statue of Liberty.
In addition, the figure was built in such a way that it cannot be destroyed by salt water and it can withstand strong gusts of wind. Three flagpoles were erected next to the Tell statue, displaying the USA flag and the Swiss flag. The third flag is exchanged again and again. Depending on the occasion, an American or Swiss flag hangs here.
The campaign’s partners are the city of La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Lucerne Tourism and the canton of Uri. There are four signposts on Rat Island pointing east with the inscription “Grand Tour of Switzerland”, “Lucerne”, “Uri” and “La Chaux-de-Fonds”.
Address of the Wilhelm Tell attraction
1291 William Tell Square
City Island, BRONX
New York, NY 10464, USA