Thursday, January 13, 2011

North Brother Island - Riverside Hospital


The overgrown main road running north-south through the island; to the right are the nurses' residence and doctors' cottage, and to the left, the maintenance building and tennis courts.

NEW:  Many people have asked for prints from North Brother Island over the years, but I've been reticent to put together a comprehensive prints list because making individual prints is so time consuming.  But I have just set up a gallery on my SmugMug page that has over 100 images available - including about 50 that didn't make it into this blog post for space reasons or because they were taken after publication.  So if you're interested in owning an image from this series - or just want to see the photographs that didn't make it in here - browse on over and have a look!

A Brief Introduction

Of all the forgotten and mysterious places in the Five Boroughs of New York City, few have histories as rich and interesting as that of North Brother Island. Situated in the Hell Gate, a particularly treacherous stretch of the East River, North Brother was home to the quarantine hospital that housed Typhoid Mary, was the final destination of the General Slocum during its tragic final voyage, and was the site of an experimental drug treatment program which failed due to corruption. Riverside Hospital, the name of the facility on the island throughout its various incarnations, treated everything from smallpox and leprosy to venereal disease and heroin addiction; after the Second World War, it housed soldiers who were studying under the GI bill. The entirety of the island has been abandoned since 1963; over a dozen buildings remain, in various states of disrepair.


The gantry crane at the ferry slip which would transport patients and staff to its sister slip in Port Morris.


North Brother Island remains off-limits to the public due to its designation as a protected nesting area, and it is home to a rare colony of black-crowned night herons. As such, it remains an inscrutable mystery to most New Yorkers, even though it is closer to the Empire State Building than most of Brooklyn. Derelict for nearly half a century, it provides fascinating glimpses into demolition by neglect, into the architecture of quarantine, and into the collective history of the islands of the outer boroughs; like Hart Island to the northeast, and Blackwell’s Island to the southwest, North Brother was used as a dumping ground for indigent New Yorkers stricken with social disease. Here is a look at the island in its present condition, as well as a brief overview of its history.

The Western Buildings


An access road leads between the morgue to the right, and the physical plant and coal house to the left.


The situation of the building which housed the morgue and pathology labs right beside the ferry dock at first seems a little strange – why would the island’s planners put a building symbolic of death near the entry point of a place where the hope was recovery and convalescence? The answer lies in the fact that this building was originally the island’s chapel – explaining the gothic-arched windows inlaid with stained glass, as well as its odd location. When the island’s population expanded, a new wooden chapel was built to the south; the old chapel was repurposed. This proved convenient during outbreaks as well; bodies could be removed to the potter's field on Hart Island or to other cemeteries with relative haste after autopsy.


The refrigeration room in the morgue. Individual cabinets for corpses were not used in this morgue. Mary Mallon - widely known as Typhoid Mary - worked in the pathology lab in the same building during her second confinement on the island.



The exam table in the morgue. Note that this was not the autopsy table, which would have been a single-piece lipped table with sluices for the blood to drain. Sadly, this artifact was removed from the island in late 2008.



Lightning struck the larger smokestack in the 1990s, obliterating several feet of heavy bricks. Here, a number of these bricks have destroyed the roof of the morgue/pathology building.



A view of the physical plant (left) and coal house (right) from the roof of the morgue. In the distance, the maintenance building and the top of the nurses' residence are visible.


North Brother Island was remarkably self-sufficient; while it required that food and water be brought in, the former by ferry and the latter by pipeline, it was able to provide steam, electricity, and eventually, an internal telephone system and electrical fire alarm system. The physical plant contained all of the necessary machinery to power the island via coal, which was stored in a large building to the south of the plant. A separate ferry dock was built specifically for the quick importation of coal to the island.


The interior of the coal house, facing east.



A 1,000 lb scale in between the coal house and physical plant, presumably used to weigh coal.



The main building of the physical plant in winter.



A west-facing view of the interior of the physical plant; at the end are the southernmost boilers.



The northernmost boilers, two stories tall.


For Quarantine Alone

Island quarantine hospitals were a fairly common phenomenon in the 19th century through the middle of the 20th, and on the tip of Long Island, the US Government’s only quarantine facility for animal disease is still in operation on Plum Island. This usage makes sense – access to and from the island could be controlled, escape would be difficult, and it was correctly thought that the sources of contagion would not naturally pass over a body of water. Blackwell’s Island, later Welfare Island and now Roosevelt Island, housed a quarantine hospital known as Riverside, as well as the municipal insane asylum and other city facilities. Riverside Hospital, a smallpox hospital still partially extant and known as the Renwick Ruins after its architect, was overcrowded by the 1870s, and so a plan was put in place to build a new island hospital specifically for the quarantine of contagious disease.

Contrary to a persistent urban legend involving a Catholic orphanage or nunnery, North Brother Island was almost completely undeveloped when work began on it in the 1880s. The only structure present on the island when work began was a small shack. In 1885, the first patients were received at the second incarnation of Riverside Hospital. Various pavilions and tents were hastily constructed to segregate different diseases; smallpox, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, typhoid, diptheria, and even leprosy were demarcated on the island. The architecture was bland and utilitarian, and the treatment methodologies were primitive, but for the time being, the overcrowding on Blackwell’s Island was no longer an issue.

Other issues soon arose, however. It was difficult to find physicians willing to work shifts on the island, and at various times, the island might have been entirely without a true doctor – nurses would have to make do with what knowledge they had. Conditions on the island were rather dreadful. The early incarnation of the physical plant was not powerful enough to counter a bad winter, and thus the heat was rationed out; consequentially, death rates rose dramatically in the colder months. At various times, when weather did not permit the ferries to run, there were food shortages.

These issues, of course, were nonissues for the well-to-do, who could afford private care and thus would never set foot on the island. The indigent and immigrant populations, however, developed a healthy – but counterproductive – fear of the island. Because few came back from North Brother, and those that did told of deplorable conditions, many hid the fact that they were ill, and thus continued to act as vectors (infecting agents) for various contagions. Robert Martin, a merchant treated on the island, remarked that “the experience while there can be compared to the Black Hole of Calcutta” – this only 16 years after the facility opened. Thus, in 1902, the city began a campaign to change both the operation and the image of North Brother. Visitations were allowed, within reason, whereas previously they had been forbidden. Concrete and masonry pavilions replaced shoddy wooden buildings and tents. Doctors were available now at all times, and the nursing staff was bolstered. A telephone system was put into place, and connected with the City telephone system, allowing patients to have contact with relatives. Although the fear of the island was not eradicated, it was somewhat abated by these measures.

By 1914, the island primarily functioned to treat tuberculosis and venereal diseases. Smallpox had been eradicated in the United States by the late 1890s, and most other contagious diseases were treatable to the point that they could be handled by hospitals within the Boroughs. Tuberculosis, however, was still not well understood, and a great deal of stigma was attached to the illness. Thus, Riverside would be one of several island facilities in New York to treat the disease from the safe position of quarantine. Seaview Hospital on Staten Island, and buildings on Swinburne and Hoffman islands, would also provide quarantine facilities for the City. Treatment of tuberculosis would be the primary goal of North Brother Island between 1915 and its first closure in 1942.

Doctors' Cottage & Nurses' Residence


The western facade of the doctors' cottage, the interior of which is largely collapsed. The utilitarian municipal architecture has some nice flourishes, such as the third-floor dormers and romanesque entryway.



Second floor of the doctors' cottage, looking south into the collapsed western wing of the building.



A remarkably undisturbed room on the third floor of the southern wing of the building.



Although the wall of this bathroom floor has fallen away, the tub is still securely in place.



The pathway in between the doctors' cottage to the left, and the nurses' residence to the right.



The nurses' residence after a snowfall. Construction on this building was finished around 1904.



Main stairwell inside the western (middle) wing of the U-shaped nurses' building.



A typical two-room dorm inside the nurses' residence. One half provided sleeping quarters for 1 or 2 nurses, and the other half was a lounge area, with a private sink.



A sink and shelving unit which was a standard fixture in each quarters.



Each quarters has a knocker with a nameplate and room designation. This is room 212 in the north wing.



The courtyard in the middle of the residence, with a wraparound porch.



An iron spiral staircase on the eastern tip of the southern wing. This room was originally a screened-in porch.



A raptor found dessicated in one of the dormitories. North Brother Island has few food sources for land animals, but maintains a diverse population of birds.



The fourth-floor south hallway has suffered significant water damage, and will soon be impassible.



A room at the western tip of the southern wing contains an exam table.



The fourth floor landing of the southern staircase.



The southern facade of the building is completely covered in climbing vines such as kudzu. This invasive species, not native to the area, is threatening the trees and the heron population, as well as impacting the structural stability of the buildings.



A tennis court, across the road from the nurses' residence, dates back at least to the 1920s.


The General Slocum

In 1904, in one of the most catastrophic maritime events in US history, the PS General Slocum, a steamer built just over a decade previous, caught fire in the East River, eventually beaching on North Brother Island. Over a thousand people lost their lives in the disaster, which had a number of disparate causes.

The General Slocum was a passenger transport, and on June 14, 1904, it had been chartered by a church group consisting primarily of women and children for a picnic trip to Long Island. Shortly after disembarking, a fire broke out in one of the machine rooms. A young boy attempted to warn the ship’s crew, but he was ignored. It was fully 10 minutes after the fire started that the captain became aware of it. Instead of beaching the ship immediately, the captain continued on course, straight into the headwinds which were fanning the flames. The ship went up like tinder.

Poor maintenance on board the ship left it without any effective firefighting measures, and the manufacturer of the life preservers had cut costs, rendering them effectively useless – there are reports of mothers strapping their children in and tossing them into the water, only to watch in horror as the jackets bore the children under. The captain eventually beached the ship on North Brother Island; by this point, over 80% of the passengers and crew had died by fire or by drowning. The captain himself jumped ship and got on to the first available lifeboat; he was eventually convicted of criminal negligence and spent 3 years in Sing Sing. For hours after the tragedy, bodies continued to wash up on the shore of North Brother Island, and a number of photographs exist of the beach strewn with victims.

"Typhoid" Mary Mallon

The notion of a healthy carrier – a person who acts as a vector for a disease whilst remaining entirely or predominantly asymptomatic – is commonplace in the world of modern medicine. This was not the case a century ago, however, and this perhaps explains the strange and tragic case of Mary Mallon, known the world over as Typhoid Mary. An Irish immigrant who was likely a lifelong carrier of typhoid - her mother had suffered from the disease during the pregnancy - Mary herself never exhibited symptoms. And it was only by chance – and by the clever deductions of physician George Soper – that she was identified as a carrier, the first known case in history. Her own refusal to acknowledge this fact led to two involuntary stays on North Brother Island; the first would last from 1907 to 1910, and the second would last from 1915 until her death in 1938.

Mary was a cook by trade; she worked for a number of families in New York and out on Long Island. Several of these families were mysteriously stricken with typhoid fever over the seven year period she was active, between 1900 and 1907. Soper realized that a previously unknown factor could be at work – Mary could be spreading the bacteria without falling ill herself. When she was approached with this possibility, Mary grew defensive and angry; from her point of view, it didn’t make sense that she could spread the contagion yet not be sick herself.

In 1907, Soper published his research nonetheless, and Mary was seized by the city police and exiled to North Brother Island. Still convinced that she could not possibly be transmitting the disease, she fought for three years to be allowed back to the mainland. Finally, in 1910, she agreed to a proposal by the New York City Health Department that she would not work as a cook, and that she would take all possible hygienic measures to ensure no further cases could be attributed to her. She was allowed to depart North Brother in February of that year.

But she remained unconvinced that she was a vector for the bacterium, and continued her generally unhygienic practices. When she found her salary as a laundress to be significantly lower than what she had made as a cook, she took the pseudonym Mary Brown and began working as a cook in a hospital. Due to her generally poor sanitary habits, she quickly caused another outbreak at the hospital, which infected two dozen people, killing one. City health officials quickly tracked her down, and she was returned to North Brother, this time for the remainder of her life – over two decades on 20 acres of land. She had her own cottage, and eventually began socializing in the Nurses’ Residence and working in the pathology lab (both pictured above). In 1938, Mary died of a stroke. Her cottage was bulldozed, being cluttered and unsanitary to the point that people were afraid to enter the structure. Live typhoid cultures were found during her autopsy.

Auxiliary Buildings


A former childrens' ward was converted to a library when Riverside became a rehabilitation hospital.



The maintenance building contains general odds and ends; here, some keys sit next to a chemical stalagmite.



An old phonebook in the maintenance building is still relatively intact.



Before abandonment of the island, the altarpiece from the chapel was removed to the maintenance building, where it still sits on a table.



The second chapel, made of wood, has almost completely collapsed; all that remains standing is the wall and entryway to the west.



A great deal of infrastructure remains on the island. Lampposts, telephone poles, manholes, roads with curbs, and so on all exist, although most are buried in bushes or covered in vines. Here, a fire hydrant is relatively undisturbed.


Riverside Repurposed

Riverside Hospital stopped functioning as a quarantine hospital in 1942. It was, for a short time, abandoned, before finding a brief use as housing for World War Two veterans studying at New York colleges. It was serviced by two ferries that would regularly stop at the western slip, but this use proved inefficient and expensive, and when cheaper housing was obtained, the island was once again abandoned. In 1952, it would reopen under the final incarnation of Riverside Hospital – as an experimental juvenile drug treatment facility offered as an alternative to incarceration.

It is interesting to note that the tuberculosis pavilion, built in 1941, was never in fact used to treat tubercular patients. The island was abandoned, and all patients suffering from this disease were moved to alternate municipal facilities. The TB hospital found its first use as a dormitory, and then became the main residence and treatment building for Riverside Hospital’s drug treatment program. The doors to many of the rooms were retrofitted into seclusion rooms with sheet metal reinforcement and heavy deadbolts; these rooms are iconic in discussing the failed experiment in drug treatment undertaken on North Brother, as they spoke to the initial withdrawal management.

A patient, newly arrived at Riverside Hospital and addicted to heroin, would be placed in one of these rooms with no conveniences except for a bare mattress and a mess bucket. They would be forced to undergo withdrawal in the seclusion room without any palliatives; medicine was only given in situations deemed to be life-threatening. After several days, when withdrawal was complete, the patient would be introduced into the general population.

It was believed that this harsh return to reality, followed up by a stay of no less than 90 days on the island, and bolstered by athletics and education, would provide the best chance against relapse. To this end, all of the buildings on the island were remade; the services building became the school, the nurses’ residence became the girls’ dormitory, and the tuberculosis pavilion became the admissions hospital and boys’ residence. The building next to the TB pavilion – originally a childrens’ ward – was remade into a library and annex to the school.

The optimism of the founders of this new program was quickly shattered, however. Recidivism rates were extremely high, and even within a militaristic island hospital designed with quarantine in mind, patients were still finding means of obtaining and using drugs within the hospital. There are accounts of boyfriends making the trip across the Hell Gate in order to visit in the middle of the night; accounts of orderlies getting paid in cigarettes to smuggle heroin on the ferries; accounts of physical and sexual abuse on and by patients. Official literature from the last few years of the program reads as more and more desperate; meanwhile, the city prepared to shutter Riverside entirely. In 1963, the island was abandoned for the third and final time.

Tuberculosis Pavilion & School


The front of the 1941 tuberculosis pavilion.



A reception area in the central administrative portion of the pavilion.



A hallway inside the pavilion.



An x-ray room within the first floor medical wing of the pavilion. To the right is the control room. The tiles here have fallen away to reveal walls lined with integral lead blocks.



The remains of one of the x-ray apparati.



An airy dayroom at the end of the south wing speaks to the pavilion's original purpose as a ward for TB patients.



The building features two of these large bathtubs.



The utilitarian main stairwell in the center of the building.



A view down the southern stairwell.



The exterior of one of the seclusion rooms. This is the only such room which does not have an extra layer of sheet metal over the door.



The deadbolts were retrofitted when the hospital was repurposed as a rehabilitation facility. This seclusion room door has two locks to ensure that even the strongest patient cannot escape, and is reinforced with sheet metal.



The interior of a seclusion room. A heavy mesh screen, added after the initial construction, protects the windows from the withdrawing patient. A window provides a view into the room from the nurses' station, so that the patient is visible at all times during their withdrawal.



A chain and lock secure the screen that bars access to the windows.



Several murals are still visible on the second floor, although most of them have been punched through, presumably by vandals in the 1970s when it was popular to sneak onto the island by boat.



On one of the murals, a patient has written a vulgar poem expressing his feelings about the institution.



Originally designated the "Services Building", this building was referred to as the "School" after the hospital reopened in 1952.



While being altered to function as a school, shoddy construction techniques were employed for the partitioning. Here, the main hallway is askew under the weight of the metal beams in the wall.



The principal's office; here, the door is helping to stop the wall from falling over further.



The auditorium boasted a number of seats and a small stage.



The gymnasium, built in the hopes that athleticism could help overcome addiction.



The lavatory behind the basketball backboard. This area has suffered significant water damage.



Although most of the schoolrooms have been stripped bare, this printing press remains.



The window has fallen out of the wall in this science classroom.


Coda

Riverside Hospital, in each of its incarnations and with its shifting goals, was always an optimistic undertaking with underwhelming results. The cost of running a quarantine hospital on an island, along with advances in medicine and poor living conditions, outmoded the facility to the point that it closed. In its later life, it was a valiant attempt by some high-minded individuals to treat another societal ill, that of drug abuse. But once again, poor conditions and institutionalized corruption led to its closure. In both cases, the patients were generally poor, and generally confined to the island against their will, though in both cases their confinement was supposed to be for the greater good of society. This sentiment seems fitting:



Found on the wall in one of the seclusion rooms in the TB pavilion, it was certainly the writing of one of the youthful drug offenders in the last months of Riverside’s functioning. But it could just as easily have been written 78 years earlier, by an immigrant confined for displaying signs of diptheria just as the hospital opened, or perhaps in the 1930s by Mary Mallon. The one thing uniting almost all patients in the various versions of Riverside that existed is that they did not wish to be there; they were being treated for socially stigmatized diseases and disorders, by a society that kept them against their will. Whether the end result was positive or negative is a question for history to decide.

Today, North Brother Island looks more or less as seen in the photographs shown here, and in some cases, worse. There are no plans to rehabilitate the buildings or reuse the island; it will remain under the jurisdiction of the New York City Parks Department, and will remain a bird sanctuary. In another year or two, the fourth floor of the nurses’ residence will be inaccessible. It won’t be long before the doctors’ cottage finishes falling in upon itself, much as the lighthouse and chapel have already done. The TB pavilion, constructed with more modern techniques and materials, will be around a good while longer. Meanwhile, the pundits can debate whether or not the island has accomplished more good or ill for society; one thing that is beyond debate is the fact that the island has a unique and fascinating history, and one that should not be forgotten.


The gantry crane at sunset; a rainbow behind a cloud gives the appearance of a second sun.


I would ask anybody with a personal connection to the island – patients, staff, the children thereof – to please email me with your story; eventually, I’d like to turn this study into a larger-scope project, and reveal more about the history of the Island.

301 comments:

1 – 200 of 301   Newer›   Newest»
Owen said...

Hi, just came here by chance, thoroughly love this report, both photos and history. Great job !

Will pass the address of your page here on to some other folks with similar interests, although you may know some of them already... I'm still trying to get an idea of just how many people out there have a big passion for urban exploration. I'm just an amateur, but have enjoyed your report here immensely...

Mare said...

Beautiful photographs! You have an amazing eye. I will have read it now...was drawn into the photos. I will follow you for sure!

Phil said...

Great report and photos. Keep up the great work!

Polly Bananna said...

I love all the crazy old hospital photos. How do you have access to so many random and publicly inaccessible places?! Nice work.

Angella Lister said...

amazing and heartbreaking photographs and history. your photographs are stunning.

Jude said...

Fabulous photography and historic write-ups.

Brenda from Flatbush said...

Fascinating reportage, unforgettable photographs, haunting story! It seems a shame the city couldn't turn it into a New Age retreat or some other use that would pay off the investment and bring in revenue; but if they were stumped by how to use Governor's Island, what chance for North Brother? Many thanks for an amazing work.

HppyFlwer said...

What about the light house? My great grandfather used to run the lighthouse and my grandfather lived there with him and the rest of the family. Lawrence Murray.
Great Photos, I love finding out as much as I can about the place and was hoping there might be some pic of the old lighthouse, but I feel it might be completely gone. - thanks for sharing. - M. Murray

Anonymous said...

This photography is completely unbelievable. Thank you so much for posting this series (and its history)!!!

Anonymous said...

How did you get access to tour? Just curious if the parks dept do grant people permission to tour on a limited basis.

camyphotography said...

This is amazing; the history, the photographs. Than you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

This was an incredible read. I would really like to read up on Roosevelt Island. Is there anything similar out there?

Anonymous said...

Loved your photographs. Chilling yet beautiful. Thank you so much.

Amanda said...

This was very interesting. I had never heard of this place before.One picture in particular caught my eye. It was a picture of a nameplate in the nurses residence. It had the name of R. Mabry and Mabry is my mothers maiden name.

Anonymous said...

Haunting, beautiful, fascinating! The photos are wonderful. I'm a New Yorker, and now I want to go and see this place! Thank you for this write up and for the photos.

blookum said...

Wow, I love this! Beautiful photographs, and well-written piece. I'm definitely passing this on...

Mary said...

Thanks so much for posting this. It's fascinating and the photos are gorgeous.

NinaNina said...

I have always had a fascination for abandoned places. I loved this story and I will hope to hear more of your discoveries.

Katie K said...

I, too, would like to know how you gained access.

A Tale of Many Reviews said...

Thank you so much for sharing this part of history before it is lost! Wonderful pictures and information.

Anonymous said...

Amazing! This was very interesting.

scf2107 said...

this is so beautiful. The artistry is breathtaking and the history truly enlightening. Thank you

Buy Viagra Generic said...

This article is just too amazing. I am so impressed by the article that I shall request my near and dear ones too read it too. The piece of information written by you is so interesting. I have never read such a good and fully informed article like this.

Anonymous said...

That was amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!

Laurie said...

Staggering! Probably, the longest and definitely one of the most fascinating posts I have ever read. Thank you so much.
Laurie

Ruth said...

Bravo! Stumbled on this by chance and I have been thoroughly blown away - thank you so much! The photos are superlative and the history of the island is so thoughtfully and humanly recounted. Truly and greatly appreciated by this reader.

Anonymous said...

wow amazing and very sad there is probably people still alive who were held there??

They could probably tell a story or two about their conditions..

Badass Grandma said...

Ethereal and haunting photos. So glad I stumbled upon these photos and the history of North Brother Island. It leaves me wanting for more photos and more information. I can almost hear the steps of someone navigating there way thru the decay., the rustllng of the leaves as the wind brushes vines against it's crumbled walls.
Will it ever, I wonder, be accessible to the public.
You have drawn me there with your keen eye.
Thank you...
Corrine
http://www.badassgrandma.com/

Chris said...

Nice pics.

How is it you were able to explore if it is off limits to the public?

winter said...

Thank you for documenting the history of this forgotten place. Your photographs are stunning and the way in which you tell the story is so compassionate concerning the people who lived on the island. I can almost feel, by your photos and words, how it would have been for those poor people. Keep up your storytelling and photography!

thunder sun said...

absolutely incredible writing and photography. i, too, wonder how you managed to gain access. please write more about this!

Frank Jump said...

What a remarkable collection of images Richard! You have a book here.

InLove621 said...

Your photographs are amazing. I labeled my college portfolio Urban Decay, mainly from Upstate New York, but your photos brought back memories from when I grew up in Brooklyn. I loved to go down by the Easy River and try to find ways into the old buildings. Thank you for that.

Gwen said...

Stunning picturs, really interesting report, I wouldn't usually go out and read about this sort of stuff but what you had to say was really really interesting. I stumbled across your blog by total chance, only just started taking this site for real. Definately going to keep reading your stuff.

indigodog said...

You have a positive talent for revealing negative spaces. Well done and well narrated with history.

Yojimbot said...

Poor birdie...looks like a juvenile redtailed hawk to me.

Jessica Peter said...

Gorgeous, haunting photos of what must be a haunting place. I loved the detail on North Brother Island as well - I have a recent strong interest in demolition by neglect and derelict buildings, and their history - so this was amazing. Thanks.

pkieper said...

If you haven't already read it, I recommend "The Other Islands of New York City" by Sharon Seitz and Stuart Miller. It's a fascinating guide that provides a historical overview of over a dozen islands around New York. North and South Brother islands are covered in Chapter 14.

Autumnforest said...

Where have you been all my life? That was the most amazing post I have ever seen on any blog! I would love to showcase your blog on mine. I an urban explorer and just finished a book about to be published where and photographer and I went to abandoned sites and photographed and then I did psychic reads after touching objects on the sites and brought a scene from the past to life. I cannot even imagine what I would have discovered in those places you've covered. I would surely be exhausted mentally at the end of that exploration. Amazing. I have you on my list of blogs I follow regularly and recommend. Great job.

Anonymous said...

As a Captain for both Moran Towing & the NYC DEP, I sailed between & around North & South Brother Islands for just about 30 years. I could see the buildings from the water, but your pictures & discriptions were really enlightening. I had no idea how vast a complex N. Brother really was. Funny how you can be so close to something for so long a time and yet, never know it. Excellent work!!!
Captain James J Gully

Vanessa said...

Gawker sent me here and I'm so glad it did. This is incredible. Please post more pictures!

Sara L said...

Fascinating! And fabulous photography! I think I will have to "follow" your blog. I find history amazing and have a special interest, as a nurse, in this type of thing. In 30 or 40 years we will look back at how barbaric our practices were today and how ignorant we were. I already see some of that from just 20 years ago. More please!

Anette said...

Good photos..that looks like a ghost house!

Olavo Marques said...

Está excelente! Adorei este post!

Vejam meu blog:

http://questoesdefutebol.blogspot.com/

portlandradical said...

Some of the most beautiful photographs I've seen in a long time. I have some photographs on my blog but they are involving more horrific material. nice blog though! :) for any and all world news and truths including CIA documents leaked through mirror.wikileaks.info visit my blog: www.commonsenseincrisis.blogspot.com and let me know what you think. my name is Alex.

Vlad said...

How do I get here?

nova said...

That was so interesting, and, as always, beautiful photography. I love this blog.

Licia Rogne said...

Just found this by chance. Awesome and haunting! This is the place of my nightmares. It is capturing of ones imagination and left me wanting to know more. I would love to be there in person! It left me with a feeling I can not explain. Thank you so very much for sharing. Wow!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
....oldgrumpymark.... said...

Very impressive set and a fantastic write-up!

Seth Edgarde said...

North Brother Island is one of the most inaccessible census tracts in the entire U.S. (unless you’re a blue heron), right there in the middle of NYC. It’s actually been part of three different boroughs at various times: It originally belonged to Queen, who dumped it off on Manhattan, who fobbed it off on the Bronx, where it remains. Talk about forlorn.

(Begin, shameless plug) My novel, a thriller called Hart Island, actually takes place, in part, on North Brother Island. It’s on Amazon if you want to check it out. (End plug)

Anonymous said...

This place is gorgeous, thank you so much for sharing it with the world. The entire time I was looking through your pictures, I just kept wishing that it could be renovated and re-purposed

FairfieldHouse said...

Thank you for this interesting and informative post. I'm a native NYer yet never knew of Brother Island. My curiosity is peaked because my Grandmother's brother mysteriously 'disappeared' in the 30s after being hospitalized for alcoholism. Are there any records of patients treated there? The photographs are stunning.

John said...

Your pictures and comments bring the old place to life. Nice job. Greetings and congratulations from England.

Trip Hendrix said...

In the end, no matter what man's intention, nature claims what is hers, in ways unimagined by man. Decay is beautiful, it is the canvas of nature's will superimposed on man's desire.

Velvet said...

Ok, I guess I know what I'm doing for the next few weeks. Reading your entire archives. This was fantastic!!!

Washington Cube said...

My friend Velvet lead me here saying, "This is you," and by God she's right. Like her, I am going to be going back and reading your archives and all I can say is "Wow." Absolutely stunning photography and very much "me."

Daffodil Campbell said...

Incredible - I am mesmerized. And so sad that the buildings fell to ruin....I hold out a faint glimmer of hope that if North Brother generates enough interest, it might be reclaimed and repurposed yet again.

Vincent GRESSI said...

wow I love your blog; this is so great. A history lesson for all to enjoy; thanks!
you are free to see my french vintage school poster and map on my blog...thanks
http://nicevintagefrance.blogspot.com

RJR said...

Fascinating read, not even sure how I ended up being here but felt compelled to read it all !!!

SabrinaAnna said...

Phenomenal photo essay. I am looking forward to seeing if you receive any replies from people who may have actually been there, or had family/relatives there. This has completed fascinated me. Thank you for taking the time and interest to shoot and share it. ;)

Anonymous said...

thank you for an amazing tour! Anthony Bourdain has written a brilliant book on "Typhoid Mary."

Lisanne said...

Just beautiful (as always)..the grafitti is just heartbreakingly real..

Bethany Rose said...

I just stop and think wow. Being a nurse I stop and look at how far we have come. These photos help describe a past that not many like to talk about. But it is our past. You captured so many emotions with your camera, emotions that no words could ever describe. What an awesome talent you have!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see some pics in HDR ;-)Great location!

The Yashwarran Files said...

Hey i am new to Blogging and i came across your blog. I just want to say it's really eye catching. Your photos are very well taken and it gave me chills but in a good warm way. I'm into architecture and to see a building like that decompose with time, amazing. You did a great job. Keep it up.

AsokaKurosaki said...

These are amazing I wish I could taek pics like these but I dont travel alot and I really want to study the places and I hope you post more of these interesting place ^^

Lidian said...

Thank you for taking and posting these amazing photographs - they make me want to learn everything I can about North Brother Island and Riverside Hospital, which I'd never heard of even though I'm a born-and-raised New Yorker (I mostly write about Victorian Brooklyn/NYC).

Dianne Villano said...

All of your entries are absolutely beautiful. Though most of them are so run down, there was once life there. It's amazing how you capture these images and how they tell a story.

Thank you so much. Keept them coming please!

Womenscorner1 said...

Really lovely work! Thank your for sharing the history and forgotten beauty of these places. One can almost imagine the hospital very busy and full of life. Take care :)

Nymall said...

These photos are amazing. Around where I used to live, there were several different settlements set up from the early days of lumbering in our area, and to this day most of the buildings are still standing, in varying states of decay. Part of my teen years was walking the back trails with my friends, exploring places like these. I can't wait to see what else you find!

Melissa said...

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Very much enjoyed the pics as well as the info.

Randall A. said...

I know you must get this question a lot (and judging from the comments, I think you do), but do you take all of these photographs yourself? If so, how do you get access to all of these amazing places?

I'm thoroughly fascinated; urban exploration has always intrigued me, and it seems like I have to live it vicariously through bloggers such as yourself. I must say that I'm incredibly impressed, and hope to see more in the near future.

Keep 'em coming,
~Randall A.
Blogographer

Randall A. said...

Also, I'd like to link my review of this blog on my review blog, Blogographer. Just a bit of my opinion on what I think about this blog. ;D

Blogographer: The Kingston Lounge

Digital Desperado said...

looks like a great place to shoot a film

Anonymous said...

Wow. I saw a link to your post on Gawker last week and I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it.

Beautiful photography and fascinating history.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos. Thank you so much for your article!

Anonymous said...

Awesome!!!!!

mamadragon49 said...

It's awesome that you are putting time and energy into creating these place-histories. Work such as yours will be an important source for others in the future.
I do want to correct one statement, though. Smallpox was not completely eradicated in the 1890s in the U.S. My grandfather, born in 1901 in New Jersey, had it when he was a teenager and was sent to a sanatorium until he recovered. I believe that was the impetus for his mother, who previously did not "believe" in vaccinations, to have his two younger brothers vaccinated.

Angie said...

This is a wonderfully amazing blog post; but was wondering why haven't you commented back or answered some of your admirers questions. Other than that your blog rocks

Kat said...

I happened upon the link to here via the Huff Post article which features your photos - really fascinating read and haunting photos. I'll be sharing this with lots of like-minded friends interested in urban exploring and abandoned buildings!

Tanya Whelan said...

This is really amazing, fascinating. I hope your work becomes a book as I'd love to hear the stories of the people who passed through this place. Thank you for preserving it with your beautiful photography.

DnJsPosse said...

Found your site by chance. Absolutely love the history lesson. Thank You and Great Job!!

Anonymous said...

Incredible pics and fascinating stories. It must've been amazing to walk around the ruins on Brother Island. Thanks for giving us the history of this place as well as some gorgeous pics.

Anonymous said...

My son, Sean, just sent me the article from Huffington Post and I went on the your site. Amazing.

My parents immigrated from Ireland in the 1920's and 30's. I remember my mother reading a letter from a Irish neighbor of her's who was in Riverside Hospital because of TB. I remember my mother always getting emotional when she read it. I remember it being so sad. He was telling her that he was so glad that she had just had given birth to my oldest brother. He said that he was sorry he wouldn't be able to see the baby since he wasn't leaving the hospital (meaning he was dying). He told her not to worry that he wasn't in too much pain and that maybe she could keep in touch with his mother in Ireland for him. Oh I am sure this is just one of many sad stories from that now haunted place. I am originally from NYC and whenever I am in that area, I think of Mommy and her poor friend.

Thank you for the lovely photos.

Patricia O'R

Maurece said...

Richard,

What a wonderful find and riveting series. Most appreciated was the depth of your research to expand the narrative of your camera-eye. Pretty amazing goal of the island to ‘heal’ people or perchance to stop others from becoming a casualty, while in its design and stigma, a beautiful island has also become a haunting casualty of its own.
I can only imagine the exploratory fascination being in company with you to catalog the complete acreage through the lens. What is hardest to comprehend is the gluttonous amount of waste man creates from fear.

Anonymous said...

I await the book....very touching

Genevieve Steidtmann said...

Really fantastic. I am strangely fascinated by long-abandoned industrial sites. Your photos and narrative really brought it to life for me. Thank you very much for your work and your art.

Anonymous said...

Some of the photography is very well seen. Really unique as the site. Others remind me of work done on parts of Ellis Island. All in all, a great sense of place.
The history also really fascinating. I only wish you'd followed up on the post WW2 housing. I actually have known a couple of families who were GI's going to school under the GI bill.

Anonymous said...

Pretty much everything I would have said has been already said - my son, a fairly recent resident of NYC (and deeply interested in such history) sent me this link - thanks, Scott. A great sense of place - the world needs lots like you!

Anonymous 2

Goggla said...

As always, your photography is stunning - thank you so much for sharing these images from a place most of us will likely never experience in person.

The way you've captured Nature reclaiming the island is beautiful, sad and quietly haunting. My favorite images are those where part of a building has collapsed, allowing sunlight in where it never shone before. Despite a dark past and present, a bright future will prevail.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom said...

Terrific set of photos here and a fascinating write-up. I'd love to include Riverside Hospital in an article and when I get round to it will be sure to point readers back to this report and website!

Kate Gallison said...

My grandmother was a nurse in Brooklyn in 1905 or so, but not in this place, thankfully. A beautiful essay.

Heather said...

Best post I've ever read - well done! Pictures are stunning and the history is absolutely fascinating - I especially loved the story of Typhoid Mary.

MBowers said...

What an incredible post! I'm blown away by your research and photography. I love how nature has started to reclaim this island...

joy_twinz said...

How I love the pictures! Thanks for sharing:)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Have looked at the place many times from boats and airplanes and always wanted a closer look.

Anonymous said...

Incredible photographs and interesting history. Thanks much for posting this. Good job!!

Anonymous said...

I flew over this when landing at La Guardia and was fascinated. I am not from NY so was unfamiliar with the story. Thanks for the great story and photos.

Joyce said...

Thank you for the amazing images and story.

Chad said...

Loved the pics, and great history write up too. I live in Manhattan and would love to sneak on there, how did you get on? kayak?

chadzilla1@gmail.com

yankeelawdog said...

I'm conducting more family ancestry work. My grandfather, John Moker was supposedly hospitalized here before he eventually died sometime in 1927-29. I think you've done an extraordinary job documenting things. Any idea where I can find any records concerning the hospital for the 1920's? To this day I have not been able to determine where, when or how my grandfather died or where his remains are. Thanks.

...with ♥, SB said...

I have no words for the way I felt looking at your photos. I only wish I was there to expierence such a beauty. Thank you so much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I enjoyed living in Farrand Hall from Aug. 1948 to May, 1949. We, unfortunately did not have any pictures. It was a haven for married couples while attending New York University (Washington Square campus). The green grass was a beautiful sight compared to other housing options. All facilities were well kept - the church was beautiful and we made lifelong friends there.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I lived in Farrand Hall from August 1948 until May 1949. This island was beautiful with well kept green grass. We enjoyed going to the beautiful church there. Rev. Stumpf was the Pastor. He had been a chaplain in the service. We made lifelong friends there.

France said...

Youre so awesome, man! I cant believe I missed this blog for so long. Its just great stuff all round. Your design, man...too amazing! I cant wait to read what youve got next. I love everything that youre saying and want more, more, MORE! Keep this up, man! Its just too good.

Anonymous said...

WOW! this is awesome...im self studying and I recently watch the Mary Mallon story....and Iam familiar with the Island...its Ironic that my mom was located on Roosevelt Island some years ago at a Rehabilitation Hospital and the vibe over there is terrible...the spirit of the individuals are shaky...and not pleasant not to mention the reasoning for being there(medical reasons)my mom insisted that we move here to a different place and we did.....this is GREAT STUFF!

bowdrie said...

I think what I noticed most about your pictures is how you use the available light to its greatest advantage. Beautiful photos of a bit of history that is slowly passing away forever.

Bodrie
A Gun Enthusiast Speaks

Jason said...

very well written!

Ann Niddrie said...

Wow, gorgeous work and stories. So much character and truth.
Thanks for sharing.

Dared to Dream said...

The imagery alone is gorgeous. Add the research behind all of it and it's amazing.

Gogo2011 Kobamusaji said...

cool topic here...thanks for sharing

peggy said...

What a shame to let it go this bad. It is a place of HISTORY. Not just NYC, but everyone. What History they hold, and the life's that worked or housed there. THANK YOU for this piece of History that we should never forget. peggy

swamp ass said...

really beautiful pics...thanks

Jonathan said...

Hi, Jonnie here, from the UK, living and working in Saudi Arabia. I just stumbled across this site and was fascinated by the history of the place. Derelict buildings hold a fascination for me and as a keen amateur photographer too, I enjoyed viewing the photos on several levels.Many thanks for posting!
I'd be very interested to know what equipment you used for the photos...

Jonathan said...

Hi there,

I just stumbled across this site by chance. I was actually looking at Rikers Island on Google Earth and found North Brother Island. The derelict appearance of the place prompted further nosing and here i find myself. I am fascinated by both derelict man-made infrastructure and photography, so your history and pictorial was thoroughly engaging. Many thanks for posting.

I'd be very interested to know what equipment you used for the photos...

pat11784 said...

Wow...Great article and pics. It really brought back memories. A friend and I landed his small boat there 15-20 years ago and explored the island for a few hours. It's good to see people documenting these disappearing places.

Anonymous said...

This place is pretty freakin' meshuggah.

daneastside said...

Hey, really nice article. Loved your insights and research.

Anonymous said...

You have some interesting thoughts! Perhaps we should contemplate about attempting this myself.
Boundless

John French said...

I was an adult addict admitted to Riverside Hospital in the summer of 1958, with severe pneumonia in addition to my heroin addiction, after several general hospitals in Manhattan had refused to admit me. (Addicts did not have an easy way to go back then.) I also discovered years later that I also had hepatitis C, which was not isolated until 1989. I was at Riverside detoxing for 3 weeks, and of course relapsed within 3 hours after leaving. I recognize many of the photos, which remind me of how dismal the prospects were for heroinaddicts back then -- and not substantively better today. I have not used heroin since 1967, through luck as much as anything else.

Alisha said...

My dad is an addiction research and sent this to me. Your photographs and the story of Riverside Hospital are amazing! I sent this off to my professor who has bee photographing Carlyle in PA. I look forward to seeing the full study.

sewa elf said...

Nice picture, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I was a paramedic in the South Bronx in the early 80's on the midnight shift..We would often have coffee in the early morning hours with the North Brother Island Ferry Boat crew..The Port Morris terminal is still standing, including the crew quarters...we went out to the island once...very interesting..I believe the ferry belonger to "NYC dept of marine and aviation" or something like that..

Billy said...

Truly inspiring and captivating imagery. Would it be possible to kayak the N. Brother and walk around?
You may want to consider St. Elizabeth's Building at Mount Loretto in Staten Island. I've passed there many times and so wanted to do a walk through.
Thank you for the insightful commentary and powerful photography.

Barbara Gordon said...

Fascinating photos and a great insight into the various structures. I would love to go to explore, and would be thrilled to tag along if you go again.

Thank you for sharing. Wonderful talent and extremely inspiring.

Anonymous said...

I loved these photos! I am so i trigued by abandoned buildings, towns etc. I would love to see some now and then photos of the island. It's hard to believe that it's so close to Manhattan, but not well-known. My mom grew up in Tarrytown and was never aware that it existed!

nina said...

Whilst doing family research, I found that my great aunt worked here and lived in the nurses' quarters. Some of her brothers who lived in Cork started out by giving the nurses' home as their final destination in America, so thanks for the photos. Sad that there don't seem to be any of the hospital as it would have been.
Nina from Sheffield, UK

Taylor said...

great post. but how were you able to take those wonderful photographs? i've been obsessed with the island for years now, knowing it is illegal to "visit" it. how'd you pull that off?
catdillo@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

This was very interesting to read and to see these pictures. My husband's father and mother lived on North Brothers after WWII while my father-in-law studied under the GI bill. My mother-in-law had to be ferried off the island to Flower Hospital in Manhattan on a special ferry when she went into labor during a time when the regular ferry run wasn't available. The family -Dad, Mom and 3 kids lived on the island for about 2 years.

Mel said...

I am one of the student veterans that lived on North Brother island from September 1948 until August of 1950 while I attended New York University on the G.I. Bill. My wife and I occupied a small one room apartment in one of the 3 story buildings set aside for married students. There were six or seven buildings, each named for a famous educator like Dewey and Farrand. . Our address was # 21 Farrand Hall. The large main building contained dorms for single students. There was a small coffee shop and General Store on the island that stayed open until 10PM for the convenience of the residents. Residents could, if they wished have a small plot of ground for their own Victory Garden.
Almost all of the grounds were clean and well maintained.

Only an area to the right of the ferry dock, that contained some ramshackle wood buildings, appeared to be overgrown. This was the area where purportedly, Typhoid Mary had been quarantined. Otherwise, the remainder of the island was meticulously maintained with clean concrete roads and walkways and neatly trimmed lawns. It was a wonderful and exciting place to live.
In those days there was as yet no bridge to neighboring Rikers island. We shared the ferry dock at the foot of 138th St with the Rikers island ferry. And on weekends, we shared the same ferry. Students , (released) prisoners and prison Guards, all on the same boat. We were, however, not permitted to mingle. Rikers passengers and North brother passengers were kept on opposite sides of the ferry. But oh, the stories that could be told..
We are dismayed to see how it all has deteriorated

Palm Beach Vintage said...

Hauntingly beautiful...so glad I found you.

Anonymous said...

Richard, the photos are just plain stunning, thanks for putting this up.

tg said...

I recently received documents from the NY Foundling about my mother's early history. I learned she was brought to Riverside Hospital as a young toddler in 12/1927. There was a suspicion of infectious disease. She was almost immediately transferred to the NY Foundling. Looking at these pictures chill me as I can imagine her being held by her destitute mother walking past some of these same buildings so many years ago unaware of what was happening and what was to be. Amazing photography.

glorious said...

I was baffled when i saw these pics, loved them too. I was born and raised in nyc didnt even know the Island exsisted til now. Wonderful pictures,keep up the fantastic work you do!!

poorworkingslob said...

These pictures are awesome! I love these old pictures and history. I work next to a place in Mansfield CT The old Mansfield Tranning School owned by the State of CT. It has been abondoned for almost the same amount of time and looks almost the same condition and construction styles. Its a shame they are left to fall apart and in disrepair. Lots of history good and bad.

klempner69 said...

Congratulations on this superb piece of documentation on what surely is a unique site.
In England,we too try to document similar places that are slowly but surely fading away in favour of modern buildings that will have little or no interest to our future generations.Its good there are folk like us to record these places.Our forum is Derelictplaces.co.uk if you ever fancy stopping by and saying Hi.

Kind Regards from Stu

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love the photos. What an outstanding job you've done of documenting the history of this island before all of the buildings crumble. Fascinating story.

Anonymous said...

Seeing these pictures and reading the comments have been awesome! As a nurse and history buff,I found it very interesting. Looking forward to more!

Jeff hallman said...

Great work!! Fascinating!

Anonymous said...

I am a amateur photographer and have just recently discovered abandoned structures.... Good job the work shows clarity and focus!

Anonymous said...

Amazing! I had NO IDEA this existed here in the Land of the Free. Have you looked into the eugenics organization of the time? This time period of 1880-1945 was the height of its popularity. Then the Holocaust was discovered and things went underground. It still exists but it is cloaked in the same warning, "for the betterment of society". Eery but here are the remains that you have captured so exquisitely. Let us not forget that liberty and freedom is hard and rare.

Micaela said...

I was totally drawn into this report. Like Owen I just happened by and fell to the spell. I have relatives who arrived here from the Basque Country through Ellis Island, my father was born and raised in Brooklyn. My connections to NYC history such as this is keenly sharpened. Thank you very much for preparing such a wonderful look into a history perhaps not so beautiful, but quite interesting.

syscosteve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
syscosteve said...

Thank you for this amazing history lesson and fantastic photographs. I had never heard of this Island. You were so lucky to be able to take these photographs of these abandoned structures pretty much allowed to decay on their own. It's like a time capsule.

Anonymous said...

What beautiful photos. I am sure when the building was in good shape it would have been hospital-like and antiseptic, but the architecture, the warm colors, the greenery and growth have beautified this place. I loooooove it. I would love some of it for my home! I can take the history out of what i see, it does not dampen my love for good photos and good bones in a building...

Anonymous said...

Great photos I worked at a large psychiatric hospital in Cholsey Oxfordshire Fairmile hospital. it is now closed. I worked there 1981-1983. It had a lot of institutionalized patients but they all had very good care some of my best nursing memories. At least at that time there were anti psychotics. Maybe you should try take some photos of fair mile it is a victorian building

Anonymous said...

got here accidently.....enjoyed very minute of the pics and comments...born & raised in Brooklyn, yet this was all news to me........left me SAD....don't know why........

Don Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth said...

Happen to come across your pictures about the lost island in NYC. I thought it was a very interesting piece of history. Keep up the great work.

Don Johnson said...

In the mid 1980's I worked at a large state mental hospital in Indiana. We had several hundred patients who had been labotimized in earlier years. We were still doing ECT,electrical shock treatments into the early 80's. The patients who had labotomies would sit in the common room the whole day until told to get in line to go to the dinning hall, a hundred men marching in single file,never uttering a word, then marched back to their ward to continue sitting until the next command to be given hours into the evening. I was told by my head nurse that this had been done to eleaveate problem patients so things would run "smoothly". There was a cemetery on the property with several hundred rusting metal crosses,no names on them,only numbers. A chill would always run down my spine whenever I had to go to the operating room where labotomies,abortions,and other medical procedures had been performed for over fifty years. The photos of The Brothers Island buildings looked strangely similar to the buildings at Madison State Hospital. It was said that Madison State was the end of the line and that the only way out of Madison State Hospital was through the cemetary. If only the walls of these old buildings could tell their tales.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the kids who went on boat and vandalized much of the place!! Sorry now, but then I a teenager and was stupid !!!

Linda said...

Do you have a photo of the cemetery?Answer please at:lktipler@yahoo.com

AstroNerdBoy said...

I absolutely love these picture essays on long forgotten places in the world. While I had heard of "Typhoid Mary," I was completely unaware of North Brother Island until now, even though she stayed here for years. ^_^; Thanks for sharing these amazing photos as well as the history lesson here. ^_^

Steve M. said...

Excellent website, thank you for your magnificent efforts! I have sailed past N. Brother Island while out fishing many times over the years, and had some knowledge of its history. I have always wanted to explore it, and now I have! Hart Island and David's Island are also rich in history, although considerably less so.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. I can fell and see through this photos the life in this place.I can see the patients, the nurses, the doctors walking around. I can imagine patients in their desperation to abandon this place. When I see this books and writing in the wall, I ask myself about the feelings of that people at that specific moments.North Brother Island-Riverside Hospital is for me,"A HUMAN LIFE STORY".
Ivette Gregori, FL

Anonymous said...

What an interseting photo essay you gave us. I would love to go to a place like this to photograph, soon it will all be gone.

Chrissy C said...

Creepy place. Gives me the shivers. I would love to see a film documentary on this place. Truly a creepy place. Awesome pics!

Angel said...

Stunning photos and commentary. - people resigned in desperation to disease and ostracism. The pictures hold the sentiment well.

kelly said...

How fortunate you are to have had access to such an interesting, emotional and visually rich structure.Looking at the photos I am reminded of the the old addage "If these walls could speak" and in so many of the images- I believe they do.

nala snibor said...

I just came upon the first 10 photos and was compelled to go through the entire article and pictures. A very good history story. the pictures are mesmerizing and bring a true perspective of what it would have been like to have been an inmate there. Thanks

Divine Redesigns said...

Phenomenal story and photos! Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Oh MY God, how very sad for all those people, and for the nurses and doctors. Your pictures seem to show their ghosts crying out.
Leave the island in peace. Let nature take over and replace it with life.
MaryCG

Anonymous said...

Wow - You have done a wonderful job with the narrative and the photos. I wish I could have tagged along with you to visit the island. Do you offer any of your prints for sale?

Sarah said...

The pictures were just amazing!! I'd have loved to see even more! What a facinating place and quite a background. I'd love to read a book, and see then and now photographs of the place.

I really enjoyed reading the comments about people who had some sort of connection with the place as well.

Anonymous said...

the photography is amazing. thank you for the history. it is quite detailed. loved the humanity aspect most

Anonymous said...

Breathtaking photography, and the sense of loss and waste in every sense--physical bodies, financial resources, social/familial connections, and most of all, mental-emotional-spiritual value, is incalculable. Perhaps restoration would put too good a light upon this tragedy, but the logical extrapolation here is that except for your visual and written record, in another fifty years (more or less) there will be almost nothing left as a tangible record of this horrific world for those living at the end of our century.

Chyanne Vanity said...

omg!I would give an arm and a leg to see that place in person I just cant get over how beautiful it is after all these years! And if you look VERY! closely in some of the pics you can see some little girls and nurses, moms and boys.

Mimi Jones flpinkmink@yahoo.com said...

Saw an article on Yahoo today and went to the Google search for more info. I love quiet places like this that are filled with the "noisy silence of history" and out of the 172,000,000 results that popped up, I picked yours since it had listed that it had at least 60 pics that went along with the data. WHAT A FIND THIS HAS BEEN!!! Thank you very much for your interesting research and story. I have no doubt that you did well in English Comp, since your story is very well written, with a visual flow of words that allowed me to "see" the past that you found hidden there. I cannot wait to go thru your other links to view their data. It has been a pleasure reading your story.

Anonymous said...

This was absolutely one of the most interesting and haunting stories I have read. I was actually disappointed there wasn't more. I had no idea this place existed. Wonderful story and photos. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Just saw this sight. Amazing photos,trully captures the place. There are many things in your photos that I hope have been removed for historical appreciation. (The mantel,etc..)

Anonymous said...

It is a very interesting place with a lot of history. I was wondering if there would be any way I could get permision to metal detect the island. I would not be supprised if alot of silver coins were found in the ground on the island. Phil (philcord@aol.com)

Anonymous said...

Alot of history here.. Wow, i was amazed!

Ammeg said...

Very important work! Thank you for sharing it. I will continue to follow your work and blog.

Anonymous said...

I am sitting here with chills running through me, Thinking how horrible it would have been to have been but there. Beautiful work.

Anonymous said...

I loved your pictures and the history behind the island. For your bigger project could I suggest trying to find old photos of the hospital and buildings to contrast yours. The before and after would add more of a personal connection with the inhabitants of the buildings. Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous, thanks for all your hard work! I live in Detroit and we are famous for aboandoned skyscrapers in similar disrepair.

Anonymous said...

hi. i came across this photo essay on the yahoo sign in screen. absolutely amazing!!! two thumbs wayyyy up!!!! an absolutely fantastic job!!!!

milt marhoffer

Anonymous said...

I just came upon this site and thoroughly enjoyed the pictures and captions. How sad that all that history is falling apart. Very interesting site. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Love the pics! I have a hardcore love of abandoned buildings!

Texas Belle said...

I'm very interested to know what steps would need to be taken to get onto the island to take photographs for a class that I'm taking.

Thank you!

Ken said...

This is an amazing piece of NY's society's history. Place must be restored and become a museum. It's the photographer's great professional and sentimental job in bringing the forgotten island to the public's awareness. Should have the photos exhibited in large poster size prints plus publish the entire project in a suitable art book.

Anonymous said...

I just came upon this site and have enjoyed every picture and all the written parts also. The history is so interesting and I thank you for it.

Keith said...

I saw a post on yahoo about the Riverside hospital and found your page by luck. Awesome photos and a very interesting history behind the island itself. I always enjoy learning new things about history and I am glad I was able to read what happened to the island. Thank you for posting such an incredible piece of history.

Anonymous said...

wow these photos are incredible! its a shame all these buildings and history are falling apart. this was fascinating

Anonymous said...

I would imagine this is what my Farmville looks like now. Haven't been back there in years.

Anonymous said...

Well Yahoo certainly brought your pictures and blog to life today. I very much so would love to join you on a trip to the island. The idea of feeling so distant from the city and yet physically being so close intrigues me. My usual jaunts to escape the city take me up the Hudson, though there are parts of the North Woods where you can feel like you are no longer in the city. Oh the ever persistent desire to escape the city. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

YOUR STORY ABOUT BROTHER ISLAND IS HAUNTING. HOW SAD FOR THOSE WHO DID NOT HAVE A CHOICE. GOD REST THEIR SOULS. HISTORY GIVES US A LOOK AT HOW BARBARIC WE HAVE BEEN. WHAT WILL THE STORY BE ABOUT WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND FIFTY YEARS FROM NOW? THANK YOU FOR WAKING US TO WHAT HAS BEEN LEFT BEHIND. YOUR WORK IS BEAUTIFUL.

maureen said...

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS HAS AN OLD BATH HOUSE, AS IT WAS CALLED YEARS AGO. PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT STAYED IN ONE OF THE ROOMS, SO HISTORY TELLS US. THERE WERE MINERAL BATHS AVAILABLE. THE PLACE HAD SULFER SPRINGS WHERE YOU COULD BATH AND HAVE TREATMENTS. THIS WAS BACK IN THE 30'S AND 40'S. THE HOT WELLS HOTEL HAS BEEN JUST A MEMORY FOR THOSE WHO ONCE RESIDED. THERE HAVE BEEN STORIES IN RECENT YEARS TO RESTORE THE HOTEL, BUT NOTHING HAS COME OF IT. YOUR TALENTS COULD BRING BACK A TASTE OF THE GOOD OLD DAYS.

Anonymous said...

Just happened to see your pictures and then found the accompanying story; both beautiful and haunting. Your pictures cause me to envision life/death in that place. Keep up the great work!

kmcgentry said...

I love the History and the Pictures. Wonderful.Thank you.

RICMELL said...

GREAT PHOTOS AND STORY KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK I FOUND IT VERY INTERESTING

Marci said...

This was featured by Yahoo main page and I am definitely glad I opened it up. You are a brilliant photographer and have captured the essence of exactly what went on in the buildings and grounds. Oh to be a fly on the wall when this facility was in use! It opens up one's imagination to the sights and sounds taken place there many years ago. I am sure they would've been loud & sad! Fascinating and informative...makes us want to ask for more...please keep us informed with any return info from families of patients, workers, etc...enjoyed the history as well as your photos...Great work!

Grandma "Mac" said...

I found this totally by accident and have spent the better part of an hour looking at the awesome pictures and reading the story.
It is sad there are no original pictures to compare and see what time has done. It should be a PBS special. I would love to see it on TV and hear the story. Thank you for your time.

melanie said...

Great story, beautiful pictures, sad situation. Glad there are people like you to keep the stories alive so we can all learn from the past. Wish I could find one of the buildings here on Forest Ave in Buffalo NY... nothing as informative as what I have just read. You should hook up with John Paget.... he does work here in Buffalo.

Pam and Mike said...

Beautifully written, with all the details about locations that are so tough to dig up on old places like this. Thank you very much for sharing your talent for writing, exploring, and photography with us!

Mark said...

Awesome photography and narrative! I am glad you got to document this as I find old places like this fascinating! Well done!

Jilly said...

Beautiful and amazing. Hope to see your indepth project with interviews and accounts.

Rosehippi said...

Good Luck with this... Truth in Hiostory is rapidly disappearing. I love that you have done this. The photos and the history is amazing. I never knew where Mary was kept away from the world... can't help but wonder if Ghost Adventures or Ghost Hunters might do a few investigations... sure looks like a place where some spirits might remain considering what the place was and the fact they were held there against their will... Keep up the Excelent work. I wish you well.

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