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North Brother IslandA tuberculosis pavilion crowns the treetops of North Brother Island

Over the years, we’ve already untapped many of the secrets of North Brother Island. The latest news, as reported by Gothamist is a new study to explore the option of allowing more public access to the obscure, 20-acre island.

New York City Councilman Mark Levine, the chair of the Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee, is using a $50,000 grant from the J.M. Kaplan Fund to pioneer a study on how to achieve accessibility while still protecting the island’s environment. Since North Brother Island has an abundance of wildlife and decaying historical structures, balancing this precisely with accessibility is crucial.

Today, Levine will serve on a panel with Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young, urban explorer and Pratt Institute professor Moses Gates, Mitchell Silver, Commissioner NYC Parks Department and Naomi Herrson-Rinkskog, Executive Director of No Longer Empty about public access to places like North Brother Island in the New York Metro Chapter American Planning Association’s Annual Conference at Columbia University.

North Brother IslandNorth Brother’s Island is home to a lot of wildlife and decaying structures. 

As Levine explains to Gothamist, “We want the local community to be part of this planning process. The grant allows us to bring us experts in architect, urban planning, horticulture and environmental studies together with community leaders and young people.”

Untapped Cities_New York_Will Ellis_Abandoned NYC_North Brother Island_03A gantry crane at North Brother’s Island

Untapped Cities_New York_Will Ellis_Abandoned NYC_North Brother Island_06Green leaves and blue skies illuminate a crumbling auditorium on North Brother’s Island. 

While Levine doesn’t expect North Brother’s Island to become as popular as Governor’s Island (really?) due to safety concerns and its delicate environment, he firmly believes it can reach a point of “controlled” public access, including events like class trips.

Other Islands_OHNY_North Brother Island_East River_Untapped Cities-4North Brother’s Island has a remote location on the East River 

Along with several community organizations, the firm PennPraxis will be leading the study, not surprising given that Randall Mason, chair of the graduate program in Historic Preservation at PennDesign wrote the history to Christopher Payne’s book North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City. Youths involved in some of these organizations will photograph the island and New York City Audubon is also participating with in the research, and the study’s results will be released next year.

Next, check out 8 Abandoned Islands Near NYC, photos of the island by photographer Christopher Payne, and more photos in Inside New York’s abandoned neighbor. Get in touch with the author @sgeier97.

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