Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Jans Bungalows

I was driving along a main road in Ulster County when I saw this and had to stop. Its about 8-9 bungalowes, clearly abandoned. Wellllll…..not abandoned, not in use is the right term. There were two houses obviously lived in so I shot some pictures over the fence and then i noticed an antique store/junk shop right next door. I stopped in andf asked the owner if he knew what that was about.

Told me he was Jan and that was his place. He had ran it for 30 years and then Irene put 3 feet of water into every bungalow. Insurance didn’t cover any of it so he gave up. Thats when he decided to open th store. I bet if I had asked he would’ve let us walk around but I was satisfied with the over the fence shots. Didn’t think it was right to ask him.

Link to all the pics

Tamarack Lodge

Sitting on 400 acres, the Tamarack lodge was built inthe early 1900s as a simple boarding house and was expanded in 1927. At its peak it would have 300 rooms and the resort had all the activities one would expect from a retreat in the Borscht Belt of Ulster County, NY. The location primarily catered to jewish familes and provided popular entertainment of the day, which in the 60s meant Cream, the Who and Janis Joplin.

There was a massive fire in 1995 which effectively shuttered the resort.It remained functionmal till 2000 when the health dept closed them down. the property sat unused for a decade until another fire broke out destroying 30 buildings in 2012.

Now there is very little left. There are only 3 primary buildings left along with some sort of storage building and a half dozen bungalows at the back of the property. the main building floors are extremely unstable and the rar building has had a partial collapse of the roof.

You can see pictures of it before the fire at this site.

Tamarack Lodge

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.



New York, NY – July 1 – To kick off the launch of the newly updated, 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,, 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. 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 video library has close to 130 films available for streaming. 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.

Flooding on Delaware river prompts group to demand resevoir levels be lowered

They believe lower levels will help avoid floods like those that have done millions of dollars in damages and killed several people.

Environmental groups and residents fearful of flooding along the Delaware River are asking for more water to be released from three upstate New York reservoirs. Seven groups sent a letter to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the governors of Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, asking that the water level be reduced “to the maximum extent feasible” for about a month. The mayor and governors jointly control the operation of the three reservoirs, the Pepacton, Cannonsville and Neversink. Three major floods between 2004 and 2006 caused several deaths and tens of millions of dollars in property damage along the Delaware, mostly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The reservoirs were at or near capacity just before all three floods. Unable to store water from torrential rains, they sent billions of gallons down the river and into homes and businesses. Since then, groups have been closely monitoring the reservoir levels and have repeatedly sought to have them lowered. The reservoirs, which can store a combined 271 billion gallons of water, provide drinking water to 9 million people in the Delaware River basin. New York City has sought to keep them as full as possible as a hedge against drought. On Friday, the Pepacton and Neversink were full and Cannonsville was 98 percent full.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection was reviewing the groups’ letter, which was dated Dec. 22.
“We’re always looking for ways to be helpful as long as the critical mission of providing drinking water for 9 million people is not put at risk,” said department spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla. “We’ve taken significant steps to provide for flood attenuation and habitat protection.” Barry Ciccocioppo, spokesman for Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, said the governor saw no need for emergency action.
The authors of the letter were the North Delaware River Watershed Conservancy, Friends of the Upper Delaware River, Aquatic Conservation Unlimited, Delaware Riverside Conservancy, Drowning on the Delaware, Residents Against Flood Trends and Trout Unlimited.

North Brother Island

The East River in New York City separates the island of Manhattan from Queens, beginning at it’s southern end, the Raritan Bay which leads to the Atlantic Ocean. As it flows North, it merges with the Harlem River at the Triborough Bridge and Randall island, flowing past Rikers Island, under the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and the Throgsneck Bridge, and on into Long Island Sound. The area around Rikers Island and Laguardia airport is known as the Bay of Brothers. It is called this because of two smaller islands known as North Brother Island (13 acres) and South Brother Island (7 acres). Although Randalls and Rikers are accessible by car via bridge, neither of the Brother Islands can be accessed without a boat.

As the bay Of Brothers flows south and meets with the East River it becomes very narrow. This section of river is known as Hell’s Gate, from the Dutch equivalent Helle Gadt. It was given this name because there is a 2 hour difference between the tides in the east river and those in the Bay of Brothers. Water is often trapped in this area, and when it releases after both tides, the narrow channel is a whirl of eddies, dangerous currents and riptides. It is a very dangerous section of river.

The islands were seen by the first Dutch settlers to colonize the area, and were claimed for the Dutch West India Trading Company in 1614 by Adrien Block. The settlers never established any settlements on the island, no doubt due to the hostile waters. A lighthouse was built on North Brother Island in 1869 and after several upgrades, functioned until 1953. The lighthouse keeper’s house still remains but is deteriorating after 50 years of disuse. The first known use of South Brother Island was by a brewery owner named Jacob Ruppert, who built a summer cottage in 1897. North Brother Island was developed heavily two years earlier when Riverside Hospital opened there. It was a repository for exotic and infectious diseases like typhus, TB, cholera, yellow fever and smallpox. A similar hospital was established on Roosevelt Island. More wings and buildings were established to house the many patients who became ill during various outbreaks of these diseases over the next twenty years.

Mary Mallon was a cook for wealthy families in the NY area, and the authorities took notice that several families she worked for came down with typhoid. She was tracked down and sent to Riverside Hospital for 3 years before being released. The Health Commissioner thought she understood the nature of the illness and that she was a carrier. She was an uneducated immigrant however, and was suspicious of the authorities. She also was suspect because she herself never became sick, as most carriers of typhoid did. She was specifically warned not to work as a cook, and was advised to frequently wash her hands. In 1915 the health dept became aware she had violated both of those orders and had spread typhoid again. She was captured and sent to Riverside Hospital where she remained until she died in 1938. She became known as typhoid Mary. The legend says she killed thousands but the reality is she probably caused less then 50 deaths. read more about it on Snopes

Mary Mallon AKA Typhoid Mary

A new pavilion was constructed at Riverside Hospital in the 1940’s, but rather then housing TB patients, it would become a dormitory for college students at City College, Columbia and Fordham U students, as well as a home for war veterans. In 1952, the hospital began accepting hardcore heroin addicts; they would be the primary patient type housed here until the hospital closed in 1963. The island and the hospital have largely been ignored by humans for the past 40 years.

The island was witness to the greatest boating accident in NYC history. The General Slocum was a steam powered ferry with 1300 passengers and was headed from the East Village in New York to a church picnic off Long Island. A small fire below decks quickly became an inferno. The ship’s crew had no training in fighting fires, and the fire hoses literally fell apart from lack of maintenance. Lifeboats were painted and nailed to the decks. Lifejackets were nailed to the walls, and were in such bad shape they actually dragged people to their deaths. The boat has recently been painted, feeding the fire and causing it to spread. Captain Van Schaick debated docking at several piers nearby but feared of an explosion of the numerous oil tanks that were nearby, and pushed full speed ahead to North Brother Island. This increase in speed fanned the fire further.

Despite the heroic efforts of police, firemen, local ship captains and the staff of Riverside Hospital where the ship beached itself, 1,021 people died. Although more Americans died then did on the Titanic or in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911, most people have no knowledge of this tragedy. It remains the greatest maritime disaster in NY history, and the greatest disaster of any kind until 9/11. It also remains the most deadly peacetime maritime disaster in American history. In these days few people contributed to charity, and few people accepted it. Working hard was the way one provided for themselves and their family. handouts, even well intentioned were considered an insult. Despite this attitude, over $5,000 was raised in relief money by 6PM the day of the fire, and by 10PM it topped $9,000. Eventually over $150,000 was raised to pay for funerals and burials, pay for two monuments and to help the familes, especially those of children who lost their parents and brothers and sisters and had no one. One concern with charity was that it would wrap the values of those who received it, and teach them that being soft was acceptable. Misuse was another concern, and there was quite a debate in the aftermath over the donation of 20,000 in fund money to the local parish where so many of the victims went to church. Some families refused assistance, until it was promised that all records of their having received charity would be destroyed.

The grieving city demanded answers. Captain Van Schaick, executives of the Knickerbocker Steamboat Co., and the Inspector who certified the General Slocum as safe only a month before the fire were indicted. The captain was convicted and sentenced to ten years in Sing Sing prison, but was pardoned by President Taft after three years. The officials of the Knickerbocker Steamship Company escaped from any jail time despite evidence they bribed officials and falsified records to cover up the unsafe conditions aboard ship. That evening at the Knickerbocker Steamboat company pier on Statene Island, a bolt of lightning from a freakish storm hit the pier of the Slocum’s sister ship the Grand Republic. A small fire broke out and was quickly extinguished. Were Pat Robertson alive at the time, I imagine he would’ve said that God was angry at the steamboat company officials for causing the deaths of over 1,000 innocent people. And no one would’ve disagreed with him either.

President Roosevelt named a commission to investigate the tragedy, which held hearings in New York and Washington, D. C. These hearing leds to many people losing their jobs, and a wave of new safety regulations for all ships. These new regulations were quickly enacted and this led to dramatic improvements in steamboat safety. The victims of the General Slocum fire were almost entirely German, and almost entirely from one neighborhood on the lower East Side known as Kleindeutschland: Little Germany. There wasn’t a person in the community who didn’t have a relative who died or personally someone who died. When those 1,021 people died they took the community with them. The remaining families could not cope with the sudden loss, and before very long Little Germany was no more.

There is a monument to the disaster in the Lutheran Cemetery Slocum monument, and another smaller monument can be found in Tompkins Square Park (between Avenues A and B and East 7th and 10th Streets, just north of Kleindeutschland). In 1991, this monument was restored by the NYC Parks Department. Interestingly, there is no mention of the General Slocum on the monument; just the words, “They were earth’s purest, children young and fair.”

Despite the focus on safety and training, accidents continue to happen, and will always happen. Some are preventable, some are due to bad judgement, while others are due to outright greed and those acting out of self preservation. Said Reverand Belford at one eulogy “To expect God to change the laws of nature would be presumption. The disaster was not an act of God. It was an act of man. It comes from greed, neglect of duty, from defiance of law and conscience.” As I am putting this together, the sad news from Egypt is that a ferry has sank with nearly 1100 people presumed dead. There was a fire, and the crew decided not to turn back to their point of origin but to continue on their journey. The families, stricken with grief and anger have sacked the offices of the ferry company. A government investigation will be conducted, just like in 1904. I am sure the company’s records will be inspected, much as they were in 1904. Survivors will tell what they remember, much as they did in 1904. The outcome whatever it is, will spur a newfound emphasis on training and safety so that a disaster like this shall never happen again.

Until the next time disaster strikes.

Birds have flourished in the absence of human activity. North Brother Island is owned by NYC, and South Brother Island is owned by Hampton Scows, Inc, and there are no plans to develop it. Both islands are restricted from public access as they are considered vital nesting grounds for local birds. Egrets, herons, gulls, and double crested cormorants all have nests on the islands. The city and the NY Audubon society are working to remove non-native plant and trees such as Norway Maples and Judzu vines and replace them with birch and hack-berry that protect prime nesting areas. species in the hopes that it will encourage the breeding of birds, and encourage other birds to return, as the harbor herons did in the 1970’s. The NY Parks Dept seeks volunteers to do work on NBI involving bird counts.

The only people who visit the island (besides wildlife experts and Parks Dept employees) are urban explorers. Here is the Forgotten NY page about it. Read more about the island’s history on the NY Parks Dept website.

Besides the treacherous waters, it’s inadvisable to visit NBI because of it’s close proximity to Riker’s Island. Police patrol the waters to avoid attempts at escape. Here is one person’s story of their encounter with the harbor patrol just off NBI.