North Brother Island is an amazing apocalyptic snapshot, and its closure and abandonment is well within living memory. With shows like Life After People, I get curious about actual abandoned locations. Dependent on environment, each of these abandoned locations give us a different view of a post-apocalyptic future. In this case these images give us a view of what potions of the world could look like 50 or so years after people have stopped tending them.
North and South Brother Islands are a pair of small islands located in New York City’s East River between the Bronx and Rikers Island. North Brother Island was once the site of a hospital, but is now uninhabited and designated as a bird sanctuary.
The northern of the islands was uninhabited until 1885, when Riverside Hospital moved there from Blackwell’s Island (now known as Roosevelt Island). 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, with the most recent being the Tuberculosis Pavilion, which was built in 1943, and was almost immediately obsolete.
The island was the site of the wreck of the General Slocum, a steamship which burned on June 15, 1904. Over 1,000 people died either from the fire on board the ship or from drowning before the ship was beached on the island’s shores.
Following 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 until the 1950s, when 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. Many of them believed they were being held against their will. By the early 1960s widespread staff corruption and patient recidivism forced the facility to close.
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, and a dense forest conceals the ruined hospital buildings.
Most of this information and photos came from Christopher Payne and Wikipedia.