New York is known for many of its infamous structures: the One World Trade Center, Empire State Building, and Chrysler Building just to name a few. Highly populated, tall buildings shooting straight into the sky have come to overshadow the forgotten structures of New York, some centuries old. From gutted smallpox hospitals to a castle built for storing weapons, there are plenty of peculiar abandoned places in New York worthy of exploring. Some are just outside of the city. Others require a short drive. All should be explored whether you live in New York or will be paying the city a visit.
World’s Fair 1964
The World’s Fair was held at Flushing Meadows Park in the Borough of Queens. The doors opened on April 21, 1964 and ran two six-months seasons, coming to a close on October 21, 1965 due to financial failure. The grounds saw a few meager endeavors over the years and has been left to crumble ever since. Over 60 years after its initial glory, the remains of what was once the largest fair in the United States can still be seen. Most notable of these remains are the two staggering observation towers and the futuristic-designed New York Pavilion.
There are few abandoned places more interesting than a desolate hospital. What once served as the largest tuberculosis sanatorium in the country is now a New York City landmark and U.S. Historic District. At the turn of the twentieth century, many were succumbing to tuberculosis and the need for hospitals was ever-growing. With lack of treatment many succumbed to the disease in this very hospital. The development of the antibiotic streptomycin brought breakthroughs in the treatment of tuberculosis beginning in 1943, and much of the research for this cure took place at Seaview. It is not 100% clear why the hospital shut down, but one thing is for certain: it has since been left for ruins.
Dead Horse Bay
Off the beaten path, another world away from the city, you’ll find Dead Horse Bay—one of the most polluted locations in all New York. Garbage blankets the shoreline, broken bottles lay shattered in pieces, and rusted metal juts from the sand. Beneath all this garbage lies relics of tough times in New York: a monument to the lives of hundreds of displaced New Yorkers, destroyed neighborhoods, and odes to shifts in New York history. In 1953 dump trucks piled remains of bulldozed neighborhoods and left it on Dead Horse Bay. The meager attempt to cover the garbage with topsoil failed miserably and has polluted the shores and waters ever since.
Renwick Hospital Roosevelt Island
At one point in time, smallpox was responsible for the death of millions of people across the world. With its rampant spread came the need for hospitals specifically for treating smallpox patients. In New York City, Blackwell’s Island (now known as Roosevelt Island) was the perfect destination for smallpox sufferers. They could be taken by ferry and isolated far enough away from the general population. By the 1950s, the Renwick Hospital was no longer needed, and was abandoned. Today the hospital ruins are a city landmark, hidden behind a fence on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island.
Arthur Kill Ship Graveyard
On the western coast of Staten Island, you’ll find a row of abandoned boats, rotting and wading away in the shallow waters. The Arthur Kill Ship Graveyard, is difficult to get to, plagued by bugs, but is one of the most unique abandoned places you’ll find on all of the east coast. For years, the Witte Marine Equipment Company, has allowed wrecked ships to lay to rest at the Arthur Kill Ship Graveyard. At one point in time, it used to be home to 400 vessels, but many have disappeared since.
Fort Tilden was once an army base dating as far back as 1917, near the coastal dunes and lightly trafficked beaches of the Rockaway Peninsula. Today it is part of the 26,000-acre Gateway National Recreation Area and visited solely for recreation purposes. Though there aren’t any tours or placards to commemorate this historic location, visitors can come take a look at the structures that once protected New York. Battery Harris West and Battery Harris East are the two most notable structures to see; both housed enough weapons to defend the state.
You don’t need to travel to Europe to see a castle. Simply take a tour of Pollepel Island, a mysterious plot of land on the Hudson River. Bannerman Castle sits proud and center on the island, but despite typical castles, this castle was not built as a home. Instead it was built by the Scottish to house their large supply of weapons. Bannerman’s castle has mostly been a restricted site for safety reasons, however will be open for walking tours beginning in May 2017. Access inside the building will still be off-limits and visitors will need to stay on NYS approved paths.
Ellis Island Hospital
Ellis Island remains a popular tourist destination. Each year, more than 4 million visitors come to see the historical landmark. What most people may not be aware of, is most of Ellis Island is off limits to the public. When millions of immigrants arrived at Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954, they needed to go through a health check. Those who were sick or disabled, were taken to the hospital on the south side of the island. The hospital’s doors have long been closed, but the buildings still stand. Today, Save Ellis Island offers a limited number of hard hat tours of the slowly decaying hospital complex.
There is perhaps no place that exudes more terror than an abandoned mental hospital. Letchworth Village was once an institution for the mentally and physically disabled in the early twentieth century and had a long run, closing in 1996. During its prime, patients would work on the 2,300 acres of land, in hopes of providing them with a better life than being confined to the four walls of a room. Despite its attempts, Letchworth was plagued with accusations of unethical patient experimentation and care. The grounds are still free to walk around, however access inside the buildings is prohibited.
Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel
Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel was the ideal weekend city escape, 1-200-acres of rarely seen country land just two hours from the city. The story of how the once highly prosperous resort came to be is quite extraordinary. A pair of Austrian immigrants started the resort by renting out a single room in their farmhouse. They grew the hotel enough to include a ski slope, swimming pool, golf course, and theatre. The resort met its demise when air travel became more accessible and country escapes were no longer on trend. Now all that remains are the ruins of the hotel and two large swimming pools, both decked in graffiti and destruction. And a few ghosts if you ask certain people.