Previously, we presented 10 abandoned asylums and hospitals in New York City ranging from the Roosevelt Island smallpox castle to North Brother Island. But asylums and hospitals are perhaps even more common outside of New York City, where the popular medical ideas of the time could be implemented to their fullest. It was thought that fresh air and a bucolic landscape would contribute to patient welfare. While many of these institutions have been demolished, others have been left to languish as newer facilities were constructed. Many have become must-hits in an urban explorer punchlist.
Here are six to whet your urban exploration appetite. Although there are others further upstate like the J.N. Adams Memorial Hospital in Perrysburg, we’ve focused on locations that you can visit using public transit from New York City (and then taxi or some hiking).
1. Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital
Of all of the asylums outside of New York City, Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital may be the one to capture the collective imagination of today’s readers. Beginning in 1885, the hospital served as the largest state-funded psychiatric ward for over a century. Most tenants were relegated to agricultural duties, as this was considered an effective therapeutic activity at the time. The hospital grew in both numbers and prestige for its innovative uses, and by the time the iconic 13-story Building 93 was constructed in 1939, the hospital had well over 9,000 patients who helped to generate the grounds’ own heat and electricity and was serviced by its own spur of the Long Island Railroad.
In the 1950s, Kings Park became subject to the same concerns of overcrowding that had prompted New York state to found the facility in the first place. Departing from its agrarian practices, the facility also developed a reputation of experimenting with pre-frontal lobotomies and electro-shock therapy. The advent of Thorazine, an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia, expedited many treatment processes and decreased residency steadily for forty years until the hospital closed down permanently in 1996.