Abandoned North Brother Island: New York City's Secret History

Abandoned North Brother Island: New York City's Secret History

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Abandoned and haunted island – North Brother Island – is a momument to New York’s haunted past. This forbidden island’s history reminds us the tragic stories of a forgotten passenger steamer General Slocum and the infamous Typhoid Mary. Remains of a hospital remind us of once a busy and dynamic area with many facilities functioning actively, which now has turned to a deserted, gloomy sight. The island has been taken back by nature thus resulting in an eerie, even haunted atmosphere. If you had the opportunity to step your foot onto this place… Would you dare to?

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Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Gottscho-Schleisner Collection [LC-G612-T-44065]

Courtesy Ed and Bubbles Yadow

Courtesy The Mariners’ Museum and Park /

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

Otis Historical Archives Nat’l Museum of Health & Medicine (originally posted to Flickr as Reeve 40328) [CC BY 2.0 (

[CC BY 2.0 (

RevR0ach /

Ian Ference /

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22 thoughts on “Abandoned North Brother Island: New York City's Secret History”

  1. One more interesting fact: Mary Mallon was once released from isolation under one condition – she had to stop working as a cook. She agreed, but some time after her release, she returned to cooking. This time – under the fake name of Mary Brown. The result was another major outbreak of Typhoid Fever. As people started getting sick again, Mary Brown was even nicknamed Typhoid Mary as a joke, by people who had no clue about her true identity. Eventually Mary Brown was arrested and everyone found out that she was the real Typhoid Mary after all.

  2. Most of these old buildings owned by NY State have asbestos in them. It's too expensive to tear them down and safely get rid of it. You would not want to buy this island because you'd have a hard time with the asbestos.

  3. Fascinating! It should be eventually reopened to the public, it's ridiculous that such a chunk of land sits unused in a place where land is such a rare commodity. Do an ecological study on how to deal with the bird population – perhaps it can be helpfully moved elsewhere, or we can find a way to live in harmony with them; but it shouldn't just be given over to birds – there's plenty of land to do something like that elsewhere.

  4. It should be converted to a historical site so the general public can visit. I lived in NYC from 1957 to 1992 before migrating to South Florida. Its strange that I recall seeing several of the islands structures from the East River Drive, and never put two and two together by not knowing the history of those structures. The same applies to Ellis Island. Both of my parents were processed through Ellis Island, which is rich in the history of human migration. Ellis Island piqued my interest after watching
    the movie, Hitch. After that movie, I was fascinated with Ellis Island, and I made an attempt to go see it. I was informed at the
    time that I needed special permission from the City of New York, or if I was a member of the military, I would be authorized to
    visit. One hundred years ago, you needed no permission to visit these islands. They all had public access. Now it just appears
    to be that NYC deliberately ignores these islands. Why? Both of these islands should be converted to historical sites, so children, and adults alike, can have an opportunity to learn from our past, and make our futures brighter.

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