7. Neponsit Beach Hospital
Located in Rockaway, Queens, the Neponsit Beach Hospital is a former tuberculosis sanatorium adjacent to Jacob Riis Park that opened in 1915. The hospital closed in 1955 once the tuberculosis epidemic began to slow down, and it later operated as the Neponsit Health Care Center until 1998. The hospital was originally oriented towards children but expanded to treat military veterans.
The hospital consisted of three buildings, one of which was built as a Works Progress Administration project. The hospital also contained two sets of murals by American artists Louis Schanker and Helen West Heller.
Jacob Riis, a famous muckraker who photographed tenement houses in How the Other Half Lives, advocated for the creation of a children’s hospital in the Rockaways to treat growing tuberculosis cases. To raise money for the hospital, Riis’ Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor distributed pictures of a boy named “Smiling Joe” who had spinal tuberculosis, and John D. Rockefeller donated $125,000 to the project as a result. The hospital opened on April 16, 1915 and was expanded as part of the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s to serve more ill children. The hospital was temporarily closed on January 7, 1943 to conserve fuel during World War II and was reopened two years later, housing many war veterans.
The hospital began working as an annex of Triboro Hospital. Yet due to a declining need for tuberculosis centers, the hospital shut down on April 21, 1955. NYC Parks Commissioner Robert Moses wanted to use the hospital land to expand Jacob Riis Park, but the Board of Estimate blocked Moses’ plans for expansion. In 1961, the Neponsit Home for the Aged opened and operated for over three decades, yet the nursing home was evacuated in 1998 after building damage from the Labor Day storm. It has sat abandoned for more than two decades.