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.