6. Liberty Island Was Once Privately Owned and Used as a Quarantine Station

Bedloe’s Island. Photo from New York Public Library

Before Liberty Island was home to the Statue of Liberty, it was privately owned from the time of the British takeover of New Amsterdam in 1664. In 1736, during this period of private ownership it was known as Bedloe’s Island (or Bedlow’s Island). New York City used the island as a place for quarantine as yellow fever and smallpox fears mounted. Later, Archibald Kennedy, later the 11th Earl of Cassilis bought the island and built a summer residence and allowed it to be used again as a quarantine facility in 1756. It was bought by the city in 1758 to be continued for such use, until the Revolutionary War broke during which the buildings were burnt down. In 1796, the quarantine facility for New York was moved to Governors Island. Read more about the former quarantine facilities in New York City and the abandoned islands of the city.