Saratoga Homestead abandoned hospital building

New York City is no stranger to abandoned buildings. Abandoned hospitals and asylums are some of the most well-worn destinations on the urban explorer path, and the areas just outside of the city are loaded with many institutional buildings that have been left to crumble. When these hospitals were constructed, the commonly accepted theory was that fresh air and sunlight were the best medicine a patient could receive. This encouraged the construction of hospitals outside of the city, where a patient could be properly treated. The further one travels from New York City, forgotten hospitals become a more common sight, left to ruin as the philosophy on healthcare shifted from rural isolation to local care in the last century. Here are 12 abandoned hospitals in the area outside of New York City, and beyond.

In this list, you’ll find stunning images by Long Island-based photographer, author and documentary filmmaker John Lazzaro. Some of the images are featured in his new book, A Vanishing New York: Ruins Across the Empire State. On December 14th, you can join Lazzaro for a visual book talk to learn the fascinating stories behind the abandoned sites he photographs. This virtual event, which will cover a variety of different sites beyond abandoned hospitals, is free for Untapped New York Insiders!

Newton Falls Paper Mill

A Vanishing NY Visual Book Talk

1. Letchworth Village, Thiells, New York

Letchworth Village abandoned hospital

Letchworth Village, unlike most abandoned hospitals, is a place you can visit. Partially. The former institution was built for people with mental and physical disabilities in Haverstraw, New York. Constructed in 1911, the facility was modeled after Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia plantation, Monticello, following the concept that fresh air and sunlight were the best medicine for the mentally ill. The institution’s Thiells facility was the location in which many patients were used as human guinea pigs to test experimental clinical trials. Perhaps the most notable experiments were the trials to test the polio vaccine, which happened to be the first experiments for the vaccine in the world using a human test subject.

Letchworth Village closed in 1996 but remains open to the public as a local park where visitors can walk the grounds and observe the deteriorating buildings. Paths through the grounds are paved and visitors are only allowed on the paved portions, while the buildings themselves are strictly forbidden from entrance due to their poor state.