Some of the Untapped Cities core staff has been on their annual electricity-less, internet free vacation on remote islands in Brittany, France so we missed this video in our inbox. But we’re back and want to share this dramatic drone video of the always mysterious North Brother Island, the abandoned island in New York City’s East River. We’ve previously covered its historical secrets and shared photographs from photographer Christopher Payne, a collaborator of Untapped Cities, who wrote the book North Brother Island, The Last Unknown Place in New York City. We’ve even visited the island ourselves, on a surprise stop with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and are anxiously awaiting the study that’s exploring the opening of North Brother Island to public access.
We may never know the truth about what happened to Sunnyside’s Paradise Cafe Billiards, but we do know for sure that no one has broke a rack of pool balls in just shy of three years. It’s a story of intrigue, lies and betrayal—while property speculators laughed their way to the bank, many members of the community couldn’t help but feel like they just scratched the 8 ball.
One of several abandoned patient pavilions at Sea View Hospital
We’ve previously taken you inside the abandoned tunnels and the old Children’s Hospital within Sea View Hospital on Staten Island, but what’s truly fascinating is that abandoned buildings dot the entire complex. They stand side by side with more modern buildings and historical ones that have been repurposed for new uses. In fact, the entire area is a historic district, which includes the Staten Island Farm Colony across the street.
Image via After The Final Curtain
Once upon a time, opulent theaters built for the masses and the elite alike were the main destinations for entertainment. The theaters showed more than movies – it would be an all-day entertainment extravaganza from live music, dance performances, vaudeville, comedy to films. As we wrote in a previous exploration of the Loews Wonder Theatres, the most grand of them all in the New York City area, “in an era before television and with radio just a novelty, Americans could spend upwards of five hours or more in these theaters.”
Many theaters in New York City and New Jersey began as live performance theaters, and when vaudeville was on the decline, conversion into movie theaters became a more profitable option. But maintaining these grand film palaces was expensive and proved difficult to keep operational.
We bring you now 10 movie theaters in the New York City area that have stood abandoned for decades, falling into disarray as they became nothing more than warehouse spaces and retail store fronts.
In our visits to the many abandoned hospitals in New York City and the region, we’ve seen the range from fully abandoned to repurposed – some are even converted into parks like Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital or Letchworth Village. Some of the most fascinating are the ones that are in between – where new buildings sit side by side with cordoned-off abandoned buildings, or abandoned rooms and tunnels remain within actively used buildings. Sea View Hospital on Staten Island, run by the city of New York, is one of those.
We recently took a trip to abandoned Letchworth Village, once a model institution for the treatment of the mentally and physically disabled. Set in a bucolic landscape in the town of Haverstraw in Rockland County, Letchworth Village is not unlike parts of Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital on Long Island in terms of layout. Built in 1911, stone buildings are set amidst rolling hillside along curved streets with vintage-style lampposts, and you can easily sense the utopian idyll that governed the architecture and design of such an institution.
In fact, Letchworth was modeled after Monticello, the Virginia plantation of Thomas Jefferson and likely named after Letchworth in England, the first “Garden City” in the world and highly influential town planning model. Letchworth Village was originally encompassed 2,300 acres, whose patients worked on the land, like the Staten Island Farm Colony. It was a distinct attempt to provide better conditions, moving patients from high density high rise institutions to a country-side environment. But like many other similar locations, Letchworth developed a rather ignominious reputation for dubious experimentation and inconsistent care.