10. Abandoned Hoffman and Swinburne Islands sit west of the Belt Parkway
Hoffman and Swinburne Islands are situated in Lower New York Bay, east of Staten Island and west of the Belt Parkway. The artificial islands were used as quarantine stations for immigrants who showed symptoms of contagious diseases en route to Ellis Island. To prevent the occurrence of a deadly epidemic, a concrete wall barricaded each of the islands. Swinburne Island housed a hospital dedicated to cholera and yellow fever cases, a crematory and a mortuary. Hoffman Island housed a “Quarantine of Observation” for those exposed to smallpox or typhus. Hoffman island also contained a disinfecting chamber in the New Administration, which featured a series of narrow passageways that held overhead tracks where baskets containing contaminated clothes were pushed.
Hoffman and Swinburne Island were abandoned until 1938, and that same year the islands were used as military training centers. The remains of Quonset huts from World War II remain on Swinburne Island. After the U.S. Maritime school closed in 1947, the islands were abandoned until the Parks Department acquired the islands for $10,000 in 1966 to preserve the natural landscape of the bay and harbor. Now, the artificial islands are home to birds such as the snowy egret, black-crowned night heron and the great black-backed gull.
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