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Abandoned Sea View Hospital-Buildings-Staten Island-NYC-034One 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.

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detail-rko-keiths-theater-queens-nyc-untapped citiesImage 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.

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Sea View Hospital-Abandoned Tunnels Buildings-Staten Island-NYC-014

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.

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Abandoned-Letchworth Village Psychiatric Hospital-Haverstraw-Thiells-Rockland County-NY-Untapped Cities-001

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.

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State Records and Files, Spring Grove State Hospital, Catonsville, MD 2008

Benrubi Gallery in West Chelsea is currently hosting “Asylum,” an exhibition featuring photographs of abandoned psychiatric hospitals by Christopher Payne, the subject of his 2009 book Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals. The photos present views that are both stark and poignant, showing these institutions that Payne describes as being impressive, self-sufficient complexes that provided a place of refuge but which also functioned as human warehouses.

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Sailors-infirmary-nyc-19th-century-facadeThe Infirmary’s impressive 19th century facade. Image via Abandoned NYC

When President John Adams signed “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen” in 1798, he authorized a 20 cents per month head-tax imposed on sailors entering the Port of New York. Through this funding, the construction of a Sailor’s Infirmary in New York City was made possible. Abandoned NYC recently visited the site and documented the structure’s stunning 19th century facade as well its harbor-front porches and interior. (more…)