Abandoned New York island

“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.

“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.

- The Kingston Lounge


Thank you to The Kingston Lounge and Bronwen Epstein.

13 comments to Abandoned New York island

  • John

    Cool pics. Very eerie. Place must be full of ghosts of the previously tormented

  • Richard

    Wow, amazing shots and a fascinating post. I’d love a nosey around the island, the place looks haunted. Having just watched Shutter Island, it reminds me a little of that.

    I hope the authorities can preserve those beautiful buildings before they crumble beyond repair.

  • Adeline

    This is amazing. I have no words I could look at those photos for hours.

  • Reema

    It’s posts like this that keeps me coming back to this site. I have Retronaut set as one of my top sites and I got my fiance into it too. Love your work. Thanks!

  • Thanks, Reema. I am very glad you are enjoying How to be a Retronaut so much, and I appreciate you taking the time to tell me. *bows*

  • Bennemans

    Why hasn’t this been renovated and turned into a museum? My lord those pictures are beautiful though… just an incredible shame it will keep deteriorating. Me thinks it’s better to try so salvage it

  • dok

    Gorgeous photographs! I would love to visit these places. Congratulations to the photographer (notably for his HDR (High Dynamic Range) photographs for their perfectly realistic tone).

  • Greta Aunt

    Daymare Town.

  • Emily Selden

    Love your work retronaut! I am a girl who loves history and this site is wonderful for that. This island is sad. The place should be restored, at least a little, to keep it from deteriorating into nothing. It could be like a Williamsburg for New York, it would be fascinating if they would restore it to the earlier time period (1920s)and have folks dressed in that time period. Oh the possibilities.

  • Chris

    Thank you Emily. Very glad you are enjoying it.

  • seneca

    would love to spend a night there with a tape recorder. bet you could hear a lot of ghosts talking and warning you to stay away!

  • Danny Procell

    These are the most amazing photos. I love these old abandoned and run down buildings….I could look at these forever!!!!!

  • Ian Ference

    Thanks for the kind words folks – just saw that I’d been re-blogged here! Just as a point of clarification, no HDR was used for any of the photos; I never employ this technique. Mostly just a lot of waiting about for the light to change.

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