My Mephetic Life

Amazing Abandoned Wastelands

Abandoned places have a certain exotic appeal. There’s something in these haunting images that speaks to us about the crumbling of society’s facades, the fleeting nature of civilization, the implacable will of nature and the ability to throw bottles at shit without The Man giving you guff. But short of something horrible, like a major apocalyptic disaster or a mid-length hike, how could you ever get to see the post-apocalyptic world of tomorrow, today? Well, hell, son: These things are all around you. Some of the craziest abandoned places in the world are here in the cities we live in, in some cases literally right beneath your feet at this very moment.

#5. North Brother Island

North Brother Island is a 20-acre plot of land in New York that lies completely empty. And it’s not located in the far-flung, savage jungles of eastern New York, or the desolate, barren tundra of northern New York — it’s right there in the part pop culture has taught us to recognize: New York City. You can easily see the Bronx from the beach.

In the 19th century, a hospital for infectious diseases was housed on North Brother Island. The facility had its share of controversy: Poor medical practices and harsh climates led to a high death rate, and, oh yeah — this was also the place that let Typhoid Mary out into the city and started the second round of a lethal Typhoid Fever epidemic back in the early 1900s. They eventually recaptured her and quarantined her on the island until her death. It was also used as a facility for the grievously war-wounded, and finally as one of the very first teenage rehab centers back in the 1950s.

Now, any one of those histories would make it a perfectly suitable location for a horror movie: The home of tormented, diseased patients that died in a 19th century hospital, the nightmarish ruins that once housed the glorious dead and dying, or a set of crumbling remains still echoing with the insanity and trauma of an experimental psychiatric ward in the 1950s. These are all fantastic settings for the discriminating white, big-bosomed heroine to get ghost-plagued, ripped apart by mad soldier-spirits still bound by misguided duty, or electro-shocked by insane pubescent apparitions, respectively. It’s a triple-threat kind of place.

"Triple" is perhaps aiming a tad low.

Unfortunately for breathless blue-eyed vixens everywhere, the public is not allowed to visit the island. The last operating facility was closed decades ago, citing reasons of “corruption.” If it seems kind of strange to shut down 20 acres of prime real estate in the largest city in the country just because of some shaky business ethics 20 years ago, there’s also this little tidbit: In 1904, the General Slocum, a ship ferrying passengers to Long Island, burst into flames and ran aground on North Brother Island, where over 1,000 — not a typo — people died in the ensuing blaze.

Hey, nobody said the “corruption” that necessitated the island’s complete quarantine was of a bureaucratic nature.