The Abandoned Island in the Middle of New York
July 02, 2013
“North Brother Island is a small island in the East River situated between the Bronx and Riker’s Island, New York City. Once the site of a hospital, it is now uninhabited and designated as a bird sanctuary. It measures approximately 400 m by 250 m. Its smaller companion, South Brother Island, is a short distance away. Together, the two Brother Islands, North and South, have a land area of 20.12 acres (81,400 m2).
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 (the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier) 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 addicts. 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. By the early 1960s widespread staff corruption and patient recidivism forced the facility to close.
Now a bird sanctuary, the island is currently abandoned and off-limits to the public. Most of the original hospitals’ buildings still stand, but are heavily deteriorated and in danger of collapse. A dense forest conceals the ruined hospital buildings, and from the 1980s through the early 2000s it supported one of the area’s largest nesting colonies of Black-crowned Night Heron. However as of 2011 this species has abandoned the island for unknown reasons.”
Pictures by Victav