Thursday, August 27, 2009

Abandoned Places: North Brother Island: Typhoid Mary

NOTE: The film above is a group that snuck into the island (illegal) and filmed it. Please note that I don't in any way think these ass wipes are awesome, but I do appreciate being able to see some moving film of the site, so just ignore the trained monkeys in the suits and sunglasses and enjoy the sights.

I thought I’d do a series of posts about unusual abandoned sites around the world. It’s one of my favorite things. There’s something about sites that have just been up and left that intrigue me to no end. They’re little flashes of life when it was moving forward in that space and then suddenly became a freeze frame of its prior self, declining in a rapid aging process of a place no longer cleaned and protected from the elements. It’s like mortal decay on display.

North Brother Island: This little island found in the East River situated between the Bronx and Riker's Island, is an interesting abandoned site that caught my attention.

Wikipedia describes it: “The island was uninhabited until 1885, when Riverside Hospital moved there from the island now known as Roosevelt Island. Riverside Hospital was founded in the 1850s as the Smallpox Hospital to treat and isolate victims of that disease; its mission eventually expanded to other quarantinable diseases. Typhoid Mary (Mary Mallon (September 23, 1869 – November 11, 1938), also known as Typhoid Mary, was the first person in the United States to be identified as a healthy carrier of typhoid fever) was confined to the island for over two decades until she died there in 1938. The hospital closed shortly thereafter. After World War II, the island housed war veterans who were students at local colleges, along with their families. After the nationwide housing shortage abated, the island was once again abandoned. In the 1950s a center opened to treat adolescent drug users. The facility claimed to be the first to offer treatment, rehabilitation, and education facilities to young drug offenders. Heroin addicts were confined to this island and locked in a room until they were clean. Many of them believed they were being held against their will (as one person wrote on the wall). By the early 1960s widespread staff corruption and patient recidivism forced the facility to close. The island is currently abandoned and off-limits to the public. A dense forest conceals the ruined hospital buildings and supports one of the area's largest nesting colonies of Black-crowned Night Heron."

This one baffled and amazed me so much because of its site. I mean, the entire skyline of the city surrounds it and here it sits untouched. In a place where real estate is at a premium, it's good to see a bit of humanity not dazed by dollar signs and potential.


  1. That's amazing this island has not be developed. It also reminds me of a place called Hillcrest Sanatorium in my area. It was used for people with tb and then for the insane. Closed in the 80's and became a favorite so called haunted place were teens would go. When the buildings were tore down tunnels remained for a while. When they were filled huge homes were built. Some of the home owners still get folks looking around. Too bad they had to tear it all down. Would have made a great ghost hunting adventure. :)

  2. Becca;
    I totally agree! I hate to see these places torn down, but I know that nowadays it's impossible to keep lookie-loos out. I always said the ultimate would be to wander around Chernobyl. I think the remnants of things left in mid-action are so interesting and watching nature reclaim places is beautiful. Some of the other ones I'm posting soon are going to be very exciting--they've actually inspired me to start painting again, something I gave up a few years ago when I became frustrated with finding good subject matter.

  3. They seem full of themselves. I'm glad you have decided to do a series of unknown and unusual abandoned sites. I am intrigued by them as well. This place was pretty cool.

  4. I could n't make myself to watch the whole video. That place has such an amazing history. It is as if it cam out of a horror movie. I am not a ghost hunter and yet i sooo want to visit it!!!
    Your comment on my post made me to actually say wow. I have not thought of it that way. I was so caught up to the negative side of the accident, whining about the pain that i missed the way karma worked. The Law of attraction in its purest form. Thank Goddess Petros was there to take care of me and that you were here to remind me that i was blessed and not cursed!
    Good night(if it is not yet night over there sorry...) and take care.
    Brightest blessings!

  5. Georgina;
    Have a happy healing sleep. Enjoy the ebb and flow of life, the give and take. It's there every day and when you notice it, you never feel cursed again. :-)

  6. Oh wow. I had no idea such a place like this existed in New York! Thanks for the education.