Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fort Totten Army Hospital



Sadly, very little information is widely available on this hospital building within the Fort Totten landmark district near Bayside, Queens. Built in 1864, the year in which the primary purpose of the Fort shifted from defense of the mouth of the East River to casualty support and hospital care, the facility served the Army in various capacities until 1974, when it was emptied and abandoned. Sometime before 1920 a cafeteria annex was added to the rear of the structure; at some point prior to abandonment, the hospital appears to have been repurposed for office and administrative use, and the basement for storage.

Unfortunately, the building has fallen prey to some fairly signicant demolition-by-neglect. There is considerable water damage which has led much of the building to collapse; the parts that have not collapsed are in imminent danger, as evidenced by the mushy floors and the separation of some rooms’ floors from the load-bearing walls.

Here’s a look at the interior of the hospital. Readers with more knowledge of its history or with stories about its active use are heartily encouraged to comment below.


An operating room, the floor half-gone.


Retrofitted fluorescent lights hang akimbo from a damaged tin ceiling.


A dormitory, one of the few rooms in the building which gives a hint of the original purpose as a hospital. This room would have been lined with beds & side tables, and the outlets spaced along the walls would have provided power.


A large room on the second floor contained what was by far the most bizarre artifact found within the hospital – a child’s riding grasshopper.




Although the floor in this bathroom is completely gone, the plumbing is enough to hold these heavy porcelain sinks in place over the abyss.


The basement is full of military documents. This one-pager explains how to zero a .50 caliber machine gun.


”Battlefield Damage Assessment and Repair for Combat Vehicles”


Surprisingly, the attic was among the most intact sections of the hospital.


A typical attic room showing water damage.


The other side of the door to this room bore the name of a military officer in fading paint.


On the interior side of the door, one of the few artifacts remaining in this building – a fading photo of an Army marching band.

Taken in conjunction with the Pasilalinic-Sympathetic Compass.

58 comments:

Seinberg said...

Looks like this place has been gutted pretty thoroughly. Still, I've put it on my to do list :-)

Michael O'Hara said...

Ditto. Nice work.

whoinsamhill said...

Enjoyed the pictures. Appreciate your attempt to salvage our history.

Anonymous said...

Are you allowed in the building or did you have a guide?

Stephen Wicks said...

I was in the US Army and stationed at Fort Totten in 1963,4 &5. I was an army photographer. The signal corp. was stationed in this old hospital. The green tile operating room was my studio. The bathroom without the floor was one I used daily.

Thank you for this visual touchstone to my past!

Anonymous said...

I just found this blog and this is so great! Nice pictures, history and sad stories. This blog will be at my list ;))

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Anonymous said...

Mr Wicks: I was born in that OR on 2 June 1948.

Walter said...

I was born in Fort Totten Hospital on January 7, 1946. My father was in the US Army Air Force - as he Air Force was called then, and my mother lived in the Bronx about one hour's drive away. I must remember the green tile of the operating room as I have always loved that shade of green since. It is sad to see that the hospital is in a state of decay, much like this writer who was born there. Life moves on ...

Anonymous said...

This was known as Grant General Hospital at some point.
http://www.forttotten.org

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matthew houskeeper said...

Great photos!!

Excellent post.

I have really enjoyed your Hart Island posts as well.

NYC taxi photo said...

the blog is fantastic! with the perfect sunlight, position, framing, etc... love the sinks hanging in mid-air. lone chairs in lonely sunlight. statue of liberty through window. and care about the text as well.

Treehouse Collective said...

Please, please make the photo of the sinks hanging from the bathroom wall available as a print! Amazing!!!

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Just love your work dont ever stop!!

Anonymous said...

I was born here on May 20, 1949, but my Dad was transferred within a year, so I don't have any memories of the hospital, people or the surroundings. I've never even seen a photograph taken on-Post until I found this website. I greatly appreciate the pictures and am amazed by the number of people who feel strongly connected to the Fort. I'm lucky to have a connection.

Anonymous said...

In the spring of 1944 I, an enlisted member of the British Royal Air Force, arrived in NY from the UK aboard the "Ile de France" troop transport vessel and was transferred from the ship to Fort Totten hospital with scarlet fever. I still recall with gratitude the very warm welcome given by other patients and staff there,and the excellent treatment I received.
Thank you US Army for everything.
Wilfred (Now 86 years old)

Water Damage Medford said...

Am curious as to how that toy caterpillar came to be in the vicinity. I'd love to know its story.

Anonymous said...

I was stationed at Fort Totten from 1960 to 1963. I was the Medical Laboratory Specialist in the Medical Detachment assigned to the garrison. The hospital building was only partially used by the Signal Corps. I shared a room in the Post Dispensary next door with a Medical Equipment Repairman who had a workroom (I believe it was in the old kitchen)in this building. He was only one member of a group from the Medical Service Corps also using the building. He also served as a bus driver bringing Bayside young ladies to the USO club for dances. I, along with Medical Records Clerk, served as waiters at the Officers' Club, (AKA, the Castle) in the restaurant and in the ballroom for dinners and weddings. The Post also had the Medical Equipment Development Laboratory along with a Commissary (super-market), served as a home for a number of UN personnel, and their families, who drove into Manhattan daily. I was very saddened to see the condition of so many of the buildings when I visited in 2010 with my wife who lived in Whitestone, next door.

Carol said...

I recently found your blog. I love photos of abandoned man-made things (my particular weakness is amusement parks). Your photos are stunning, and your text is very well-written. Each post is a delight. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

Anonymous said...

I was born in that hospital on June 2, 1948. My Father was assigend to Governor's Island and we lived in Brooklyn. Left before I was a year old for Germany and the early Army of Occupation.

Rhapsdyb said...

Oh my gosh, my step dad was stationed here in '64, '65. I loved it. We always used to sneak through the chain link fence and go into the old part of the fort. We used to find old passageways that were hidden and just roam for hours there. Thank you for bringing back some memories of my childhood.

Redwoodsorrel said...

I'm another person who was born there, in 1946. Beautiful photo essay, but seeing it abandoned and falling apart makes me feel so old!

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It has been a disaster I guess but great photography.

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the parts that have not collapsed are in imminent danger, as evidenced by the mushy floors and the separation of some rooms...

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more knowledge of its history or with stories about its active use are heartily encouraged

SEMPERFI1 said...

Is it possible for just anyone to get into Fort Totten Army Hospital?

Goofey4ag said...

My great grandfather was stationed there from 1870 to 1898. He reached the rank of sergeant of engineers. His name was John Cavanagh, and he was from County Wicklow, Ireland. While stationed there he raised a family and represented the U.S. Army in world shooting championships. He won. My grandmother was born in that hospital way back on May 3, 1892.

Thank you for these photo's of the old hospital, great job.
Don Baker
Brockport, N.Y. 22 Oct., 2011

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Sometime before 1920 a cafeteria annex was added to the rear of the structure; at some point prior to abandonment..

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A wooden annex was added to the main hospital building. This allowed hundreds of additional beds in the facility...really nice..

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There is considerable water damage which has led much of the building to collapse; the parts that have not collapsed are in imminent danger...:)

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Unfortunately, the building has fallen prey to some fairly signicant demolition-by-neglect.

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Unfortunately, the building has fallen prey to some fairly signicant demolition-by-neglect. There is considerable water damage which has led much of the building to collapse.

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Sometime before 1920 a cafeteria annex was added to the rear of the structure; at some point prior to abandonment, the hospital appears to have been repurposed for office.

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This ancient hospital is a sigh of era..Thanks foe showing each of the detail.

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this building must be used to make a horror movie:D

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a vist to History and particularly the human interest comments. I don't want to be insensitive but could someone rescue the sinks! Everywhere throughout the abandoned buildings are bathroom sinks! REcycling would be good!

robert saracino said...

i was a dental assistant here between 1957 and 1959. have great memories. i later became a dentist

John said...

I was born at Ft. Totten April 10, 1948.
My Father was in the Air Force, my mother was a war bride from French Algeria. 3 months later we were transferred to Panama Canal Zone for 3 years. Cool pictures.
John

Susan (Guljord)Wilson said...

As a few others on here, I also was born at the hospital...Valentine's Day (Feb.14th) 1949. Dad was a Staff Sgt. and did photography for the Army. In his spare time he worked in the Castle as a soda jerk. I vaguely remember going there with him once for some ice cream. I remember the Hard Rock Maple captain's chairs and round table...to this day I love hard rock maple and captain's chairs LOL I have several photographs my mom took of the hospital after I was born (lots of snow that year). The photos show a tall, two floor long white building, and while part of me remembers this brick front facade, it doesn't resemble what's in the photos. Could the pictures have been taken from the back? At any rate...I remember the beautiful homes and tree-lined streets, and one officer's home in particular. My grandma cooked for him and his family and she often took me with her to play with their children. We played on the big, front porch and had wonderful afternoons. I still have a great love for the ocean and big homes on tree filled streets. We didn't live there long since dad was always putting in for somewhere else...but I'm so proud to have been born there as I'm sure others are too.

Bob said...

Born at Fort Totten Hospital May 29, 1948.

John Friend said...

I was born at Fort Totten on September 17,1946. Father was in the Air Corp and was being transferred from West Point to Glen Cove Long Island. Proud to be a Totten Tot like Susan Wilson.

surfly said...

I was born there on Sept. 7th, 1947
Sherman F. Childers III

Ken Holmes said...

I was another Army Brat, born here on October 21, 1947.
These photos make me realize how old I really am.
Great Photos!

Anonymous said...

In 1864, the fort would have also been used to house prisoners from the Civil War. It would be nifty to know if the building was put up to provide for their care.

stringhampton said...

I'm a late comer to this party, but in 1990 I was promoted and transferred to what was then the 77thRSC (originally the 77th Infantry Division) and became the CSM of the Reserve Forces School at Ft. Hamilton, but the RSC was my higher headquarters. I spent the next, nearly 10 years in various positions all under the 77th to include the last CSM of the 469th Engineer Battalion. I mention that due to the beautiful Engineer castle located on Ft. Totten. Great photos but epic shame on what happens to our history due to lack of care about things that should be preserved. CSM WEN, US Army (ret)

Anonymous said...

I was born at Fort Totten on May 2, 1946. My father was a dentist that mostly treated injured soldiers from the war.
It was interesting to see the hospital photos since I have never returned to NYC after I left at age two.

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