Can you imagine in the middle of Concrete Jungle New york you will find something so peaceful, serene, and abandoned for such a long time? Kudos to such wanderers who find such places and share with the world.
Situated between the Bronx and Riker’s Island is a small parcel of land in the East River known as North Brother Island. The island is small, measuring approximately 400 meters x 250 meters. Together with its smaller counterpart South Brother Island, the two have a land area of about 20 acres (81,400 square meters). You can see the island on Google Maps here (and above).
North Brother was uninhabited until 1885 when Riverside Hospital moved there from Roosevelt Island. According to Wikipedia:
“Riverside Hospital was founded in the 1850s as the Smallpox Hospital to treat and isolate victims of that disease. Its mission eventually expanded to other quarantinable diseases. Typhoid Mary (the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier) was confined to the island for over two decades until she died there in 1938.
The hospital closed shortly thereafter. After World War II, the island housed war veterans who were students at local colleges, along with their families. After the nationwide housing shortage abated, the island was once again abandoned.
In the 1950s a center opened to treat adolescent drug addicts. The facility claimed to be the first to offer treatment, rehabilitation, and education facilities to young drug offenders. Heroin addicts were confined to this island and locked in a room until they were clean. By the early 1960s, widespread staff corruption and patient recidivism forced the facility to close.
Now a bird sanctuary, the island is currently abandoned and off-limits to the public. Most of the original hospitals’ buildings still stand but are heavily deteriorated and in danger of collapse. A dense forest conceals the ruined hospital buildings, and from the 1980s through the early 2000s it supported one of the area’s largest nesting colonies of Black-crowned Night Heron. However, as of 2011, this species has abandoned the island for unknown reasons.
Vista says he and a friend kayaked to the island and spent three hours exploring and documenting North Brother. For any would-be urban explorers, Victav warns that due to the island’s proximity to the city, airport, power plant, water treatment facility, and prison (Riker’s), it is strongly monitored by both the NYPD and coast guard. So if you want to visit, you must be very sneaky.