Posts Tagged ‘ North Brother Island ’

North Brother Island- ceramics

Sometimes artifacts are left in buildings, sometimes they’re found scattered on the grounds, and in the case of islands, rummaging through the sediment and buildup at low tide can reveal treasures. North Brother Island has unfortunately been heavily scrapped, and very little in the way of artifacts actually remains.

Which is why it was amazing to discover that the facility, known as Riverside Hospital, actually had branded dishware. Two broken pieces of a plate, stamped “Riverside” with laurel leaves and a DH, which I can only assume stands for Department of Health. The back of the plate was inscribed with a very faint “Greenwood China, Trenton NJ” which, after a bit of research, turned out to be from the pottery company Messrs. Stephens, Tanis & Co. established in 1861. The particular mark on the plate was first used in 1886. While it seems difficult to further narrow down the date this plate was created beyond the stamp, knowing Riverside Hospital was founded in the 1850s as a smallpox hospital makes me wonder if these plate remnants really are well over 100 years old, and existed before the General Slocum crash on the island’s shores.

Either way, a fascinating find, giving a little more insight into the daily life of the quarantine patients in the early years of the hospital.

Auditoriums

A selection of various auditoriums, chapels and other general congregation spaces I’ve shot over the years. Most are contained within larger institutions; I’m not including free-standing theatres.

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North Brother Island- Exteriors

One of the things I tend to focus on every time I go to North Brother Island in the East River is documenting the buildings throughout the seasons, as best I can. This has been evidenced in my previous posts on the island, though in this particular one I will be posting shots from the outside of all the structures on the island (except for the morgue, gantry and physical plant, as I’ve already made individual posts on these ). It really is amazing how over the last several decades, despite the Parks Department’s efforts, nature has slowly overtaken most of the remaining structures.

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North Brother Island- Morgue

The morgue building on North Brother Island was originally built as a chapel, and its original construction purpose is shown in the Gothic yellow stained glass windows, most of which have since fallen out or been smashed apart. Located right beside the ferry gantry, the building was repurposed as an easier way to transfer the bodies to the mainland for being laid to rest with minimal interaction by other patients, thus preventing stress among the patients remaining on the island. A new, wooden chapel was built further south on the island, and barely even a superstructure remains.

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North Brother Island- Gantry

Located on the far west side of the island, facing Hunt’s Point in the Bronx is the original ferry gantry for Riverside Hospital. Run several times a day, the ferry was used to get patients to and from the island, typically only on their entrance and release . By the days of the island as a drug rehab center, some patients had privileges to leave the island, though this was one of the many reasons the island was eventually closed, due to a high recidivism rate and escapism. There’s many accounts of staff bringing drugs and other illegal substances on the island as they crossed on the ferry. Continue reading

North Brother Island- Physical Plant

I’ve spent the last several years visiting the quarantine island known as North Brother, documenting the slow change and decay of the buildings over the years. Located in the middle of the East River off the Bronx in New York, the island is a nesting sanctuary for herons and rarely seen by anyone outside of the NY Parks Department.

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Spiral Stairs

A few more themed posts should work for the moment. I always love finding such intricate architectural details in buildings, especially after so many have undergone later renovations to become more utilitarian. The first shot is from a hospital on a quarantine island, the second from a forensic psychiatric facility.

Spiral staircase in the nurses' building, North Brother Island, NYC

Spiral staircase in administration building, southern state hospital, Virginia

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