North Brother Island is located between the Bronx and Riker’s Island in the East River, New York.
Unused until 1885, Riverside Hospital was moved to North Brother Island from Blackwell’s Island (now Roosevelt Island which you can read about here). Riverside Hospital was founded in the 1850’s and used to treat and isolate victims of Smallpox and eventually other quarantine type diseases. North Brother Island was chosen as it was a place able to be segregated from society. This is the island that Typhoid Mary was confined to for over 20 years until she died in 1938. Riverside Hospital closed shortly after this. After World War II the island was used as housing for war veterans and their families who were students at local colleges, but only for a short time as the island was then abandoned shortly after. After this, in the 1950’s a facility opened on the island to treat adolescent drug addicts. The center for treatment offered rehabilitation and education to young drug offenders. Heroin addicts were confined to the island and locked in their room until they were clean. Many of the offenders believed they were being held against their will. By the 1960’s staff corruption and patient recidivism forced the center to shut down. Again it was abandoned and left in solitude.
The wreck of the General Slocum occurred off the shores of North Brother Island. General Slocum was a steamship which burned on June 15, 1904, over 1,000 people died either from the fire or by drowning before the ship was grounded on the islands shores.
The derelict North Brother Island is now a bird sanctuary and off limits to the public. From the 1980s to early 2000s it was one of the area’s largest nesting colonies for the Black-Crowned Night Heron, but in 2008 this type of bird abandoned the island for unknown reasons. The Book, North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City, goes into amazing detail with fascinating pictures.
As of 2013 many of the buildings still stand as you can see from the satellite image.
Where is the abandoned North Brother Island located? You can find this radical island with these coordinates. 40.800938,-73.89825.
Image 1 used under Creative Commons License Attribution Non Commercial 2.0 Generic. Image 1 by Jonathan Haeber / Flickr.