Archive for the ‘Hospitals’ Category

My experience exploring North Brother Island

If you know nothing about NBI, here is my original entry detailing the long and varied history of this unassuming island in the Bronx River. it’s well worth a read and I won’t repeat it here because this is about my own journey exploring the island. I don’t recall exactly where I first heard about it, but I had known about it for well over a year. I had researched it thoroughly, making particular note of the dangerous currents and tides. I was also keenly aware that it was very close to Riker’s Island, which presented a security issue. I certainly did not want to be mistaken for someone escaping the infamous prison. What became clear was that if one was going to go to the island it would have to be by canoe, so one could scuttle the boat on shore. After numerous aborted discussions i finally found someone w/a canoe and someone else crazy enough to make the trip. We made the trip in January 2006. It would be approximately 1,000 feet from shore to shore and I am woefully out of shape, I cant remember the last time I was in a canoe. Complicating things is the fact that the tides are vicious and the water was ice cold. There had been a nasty ice storm the night before so air temperatures were sub-freezing. I can’t imagine what the water temperature would be like. Even with a life jacket, hypothermia could easily set in before I could reach shore. If you haven’t figured it out, this journey probably ranks as the most unintelligent exploration I have ever taken.

As fate would have it, I made the trip over successfully. The island is home to numerous birds which nest there and it’s a a protected bird sanctuary. The hospital buildings are all in severe disrepair. Many stairs are crumbling and there are holes in many walls and floors. This has allowed many thaw cycles to do further damage to the facility as snow and ice have gotten inside and rotted away the wood that held it together. There are 3 main buildings as you can see in the aerial picture below from google. There was almost nothing left in any of the buildings except for rusted out desk and chairs. The one area that was most interesting was the kitchen which still had purchase orders for the patients. In here I also found a 1950 phone book. I found it amazing to see phone listings as KL5-3325. Unfortunately the pages crumbled in my hands so I could not take it home as a souvenir. We spent several hours carefully poking around, but our visit was cut short because we wanted to go back when the tides were just right. Below are several pictures, but you should really check out all the pics on flicker

North Brother Island

If you know nothing about NBI, here is my original entry detailing the long and varied history of this unassuming island in the Bronx River. it’s well worth a read and I won’t repeat it here because this is about my own journey exploring the island. I don’t recall exactly where I first heard about it, but I had known about it for well over a year. I had researched it thoroughly, making particular note of the dangerous currents and tides. I was also keenly aware that it was very close to Riker’s Island, which presented a security issue. I certainly did not want to be mistaken for someone escaping the infamous prison. What became clear was that if one was going to go to the island it would have to be by canoe, so one could scuttle the boat on shore. After numerous aborted discussions i finally found someone w/a canoe and someone else crazy enough to make the trip. We made the trip in January 2006. It would be approximately 1,000 feet from shore to shore and I am woefully out of shape, I cant remember the last time I was in a canoe. Complicating things is the fact that the tides are vicious and the water was ice cold. There had been a nasty ice storm the night before so air temperatures were sub-freezing. I can’t imagine what the water temperature would be like. Even with a life jacket, hypothermia could easily set in before I could reach shore. If you haven’t figured it out, this journey probably ranks as the most unintelligent exploration I have ever taken.

As fate would have it, I made the trip over successfully. The island is home to numerous birds which nest there and it’s a a protected bird sanctuary. The hospital buildings are all in severe disrepair. Many stairs are crumbling and there are holes in many walls and floors. This has allowed many thaw cycles to do further damage to the facility as snow and ice have gotten inside and rotted away the wood that held it together. There are 3 main buildings as you can see in the aerial picture below from google. There was almost nothing left in any of the buildings except for rusted out desk and chairs. The one area that was most interesting was the kitchen which still had purchase orders for the patients. In here I also found a 1950 phone book. I found it amazing to see phone listings as KL5-3325. Unfortunately the pages crumbled in my hands so I could not take it home as a souvenir. We spent several hours carefully poking around, but our visit was cut short because we wanted to go back when the tides were just right. Below are several pictures, but you should really check out all the pics on flicker

Greystone preservation efforts continue

Efforts continue to preserve greystone.

Anyone know how much, if anything, is left of greystone? I’m sure the main building is still there, that thing has 3 foot thick exterior walls and would take a ton of dynamite to destroy, but what about the outlying buildings? Any of them left?

new PBS web video about NBI

PBS has a new series on it’s website called The City Concealed. it’s first episode focuses on North brother Island, and it’s use by birds as a nesting ground. It’s short but interesting and features interviews with the Audubon Society. Below is a press release about the show.

THIRTEEN LAUNCHES UPDATED WEBSITE THIRTEEN.ORG/VIDEO
With Niall Ferguson’s ASCENT OF MONEY and THE CITY CONCEALED: NORTH BROTHER ISLAND July 8th

FULL-LENGTH PROGRAMS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE INCLUDING NATIONAL AND LOCAL SHOWS

New York, NY – July 1 – To kick off the launch of the newly updated Thirteen.org/Video, the local website of New York public media provider, THIRTEEN, the station will feature the full-length mini-series of Niall Ferguson’s ASCENT OF MONEY. Each episode of the program, which premieres on PBS stations nationwide on July 8, 15, 22 and 29 at 9 p.m. (ET), will be available online the morning of its broadcast air-date. This groundbreaking four-part series traces the rise of the modern financial system by taking viewers on a global trek through the history of money.

With its new video capabilities, Thirteen.org/video, will deliver hundreds of hours of programming to its users, including national programs such as NATURE, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, FRONTLINE, MASTERPIECE, PBS NEWSHOUR, WIDE ANGLE, and NOVA and locally produced programs including THE CITY CONCEALED, REEL13 SHORTS, WORLDFOCUS, and IT’S THE ECONOMY, NY.

In addition, THIRTEEN will continue to produce its own original online content, catering to a hyper-local New York audience with shows like THE CITY CONCEALED and REEL13 SHORTS. THE CITY CONCEALED is a series of short documentaries about New York City’s hidden treasures. The latest episode, North Brother Island, will premiere with the new video player. Past episodes include Fresh Kills Park in Staten Island, The United Palace Theatre in Harlem, and Weeksville, the city’s first African-American free town established in the 1800s. REEL13.org is a destination for short film submissions, voting and viewing. Three shorts are presented each week and the winner of a public online vote is broadcast on THIRTEEN on Saturday nights. The REEL 13.org video library has close to 130 films available for streaming.

Thirteen.org/video will provide superior improved navigation capabilities, allowing users to search and find their favorite shows by theme, episode, host and date and watch full-length programs on demand.

Episode of House filmed at Greystone

Definite must-see tv

the strange figures at RWJUH

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital is a well known teaching hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. For whatever reason they have these little figures on an I-beam out in front of the hospital.

rwjuh4

rwjuh3

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rwjuh

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Greystone is a hot spot for urban explorers

no duh. I am really surprised people used their actual names.

Oh and Heather Shade asks for permission before entering? I’m sure she have. But I don’t think that’s the norm. Same goes for the marks. I don’t think they had permission to visit the Fish Factory. Then again, maybe they did. What the hell do I know?

Also of note, this article made it onto the wire services and was published in the Star Ledger.

Marlboro Psychiatric

I was recently sent some photos of the abandoned-not-really abandoned Marlboro psychiatric facility. I’ll be posting more info about this location shortly. For now, enjoy these photos.

The abandoned patient houses of Ancora Psychiatric

In issue 18 of Weird NJ they showed photos of the old patient buildings at Ancora, a psychiatric facility in Hammonton. By the time I actually visited in 2004, the houses had all been razed and there was nothing to see. Well, there might have been but the main facility across the street is still active. I wasn’t risking being caught for something that was really not much to see anyway.

Lesson learned: go to see a place while it’s still there. You snooze, you lose.

This is a photo submitted by a reader:

smallhouse

Session 9

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Session 9 is a low budget horror thriller that delivers the goods. Filmed before he resurfaced as Horatio Cane on CSI: Miami, David Caruso plays a asbestos cleaner who has one week to clean out a 130 year old abandoned psychiatric hospital. A well written movie featuring top notch acting, and the fact that it was filmed at a real psych hospital only adds to the movies authentic feel.

Danvers State Hospital, located just north of Boston, is a real mental hospital where the movie was filmed, and is just as important a character as any of the members of crew sent there to clean it up. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Danvers consists of 17 buildings, with over 300,000 square feet of useable space, erected between 1874-1878. It closed in the mid 80’s amid budget cuts… and scandals. The facility was a frequent target for urban explorers, and homeless people were often kicked out.

The movie tells the story of five asebtos removal technicians who have one week to remove asbetos in advance of prepared demolition. Headed by the owner Gordon, and his partner Phil (Caruso) they are Joined by Mike, son of the state Attorney General, and one time law student, Hank (who is dating Phil’s ex-girlfriend) and newbie Jeff, Gordon’s cousin. The movie avoids most of the traditional clichés, scenarios & plot devices in favor of character development. Every one of these men has their own motivations & secrets, and Phil’s has nothing to do with the plot but establishes his character a great deal. A lesser movie would’ve left that secret on the cutting room floor or gone for something flashier. As the week progresses, things start to happen, secrets are revealed, bad decisions made, and paranoia ensues. What is really going in Danvers? The movie throws more red herrings at you then Oliver Stone’s JFK did, and even till the last moment you’ll be trying to predict who (or what) is responsible, and what will happen next.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, (or I’d ruin it) but suffice it to say that the movie eschews the standard horror fare of buckets of blood and cheap “thrills” for true suspense and terror. Mike discovers a cache of old records & files & throughout the film he listens to the therapy sessions of Mary Hobbes, a schizophrenic patient from the 70’s. As we listen to session after session toward the inevitable 9th session, we learn about her life, her illness and just why she was committed. Session #9’s audio is played out over the action of the 4 men in various parts of the house, each facing their own dangers. Some reviews I read said there wasn’t enough of a bang bang ending. The entire movie is methodically slow, unfurling itself & dragging you along, as you ponder the facility, the men & what exactly is going on. Like a slow burn it builds to a climax that never explodes but burns brightly, then slows to a simmer till the closing credits.

Thru the use of wide angle shots to demonstrate the size & scope of the facility, we feel overwhelmed by it all. Most of the films takes place in bright sunlight, even in interior shots, but the movie really shines thru its numerous scenes in the hospital’s dark corridors and subterranean labyrinths. There are several chilling moments, including one scene where a character is trapped in the dark. Even though the way it is depicted isn’t how it would actually happen if the power failed, it is so terrifying a prospect that we don’t even care. The final scenes cut back & forth quickly between the 4 men, inter weaving their tales with a 5th element, the audio of Session number 9….

The acting is all top-notch, especially David Caruso’s. You can say what you want about his wooden acting on CSI: Miami, in this movie he does an excellent job. The movie is very low budget but you’d never know it because all of it was filmed on location, and very few special effects were used. After viewing the movie I watched the behind the scenes interviews & wasn’t surprised when the cast & crew talked about how they were creeped out by the filming. If anything, Danvers is even more psychologically imposing after having watched the behind the scene interviews. Written & directed by Brad Anderson, he actually wrote the script with this facility in mind. It turns out that nearly everything said in the movie about Danvers is true, although the story told by Mike about the satanic ritual abuse case which contributed to it’s demise is a slightly altered version of real events. (It’s amazingly close to the truth…) This is a movie to watch in the dark with your loved one, getting spooked as you go. This movie will be enough to keep you out of abandoned places for a very long time.

If you’ve ever been in a real abandoned psychiatric facility, you will appreciate the mood of the movie. It’s little things like a conversation held between the technicians and the head of the security. Phil says,” I see you’ve got a firearm on, and I’m wondering why. It’s not like people are trying to get out.” “Not out. In. You know, kids. Delinquents. Homeless. A lot of former patients ended up in the streets when this place closed down, and some of them, they came back.” Later as they are given a tour of the facility, Gordon asks about the graffiti. “Punks, little motherfuckers come in here to get high, wreck the place, destructive little bastards.”

The real Danvers was tgorn down in 2006 despite being on the National register of Historic Places. Interestingly, the planned development of condos and townhouses suffered a severe arson the following year. Here are some excellent photos of Danvers before it was torn down. Here’s another site that discusses Danvers as well as other Kirkbride buildings. Kirkbride designed many such facilities in such a unique fashion, the style was named after him.