Isolated island: North brother island in New York

New York and North Brother Island


New York is one of the most densely populated cities in the US, and still, in his heart is an uninhabited island! Can you believe it? The story of this north brother island is one of the dark secrets of New York that the city would rather forget.

Dilapidated stairs that lead to the crumbling walls are almost all that remains of forgotten New York Center for Infectious Diseases, which is 50 years old abandoned and forgotten. Only 350 meters away from the crowded Bronx is an island that was first settled in 1885 and served as a quarantine for infectious diseases. Later it was the only official colony of people affected by leprosy in the United States. It has for decades been the home of Typhoid Mary, the first recorded carriers, which is the “title” gained worldwide fame.
Mary Malon arrived in America as an immigrant from Ireland and become famous thanks to the fact that carried typhoid fever. What is even scarier, she was a cook and carrier. She worked as a travelling cook, and for several years she infected 51 people, three of whom died.

When the outbreak was detected, health authorities have held her for three years in enforced isolation, until the court issued a judgment that it was illegal.
In the end, she accepted the voluntary isolation from the rest of her life, for almost three decades, and spent them as a “guest” of New York City on this north brother island. On the island, she had her hut, and after her death in 1938, doctors have done the autopsy and found typhoid culture in her system. She was also the most famous resident of this creepy north brother island.

North Brother Island was the witness of one of the greatest American tragedy before 11 September, fire on a passenger ship “General Slocum” as a result of which killed 1,021 travellers.
Centre on the north brother island closed in 1963 and since then it was abandoned. A large number of migrants spent time in the centre because they were ill. At early 20th century, New York was full of migrants who lived in poor conditions, so the epidemics were frequent. The city authorities sent those who were sick to the north brother island. As expected, the living conditions in the Isle were very, very bad.

The mortality rate was high, and the possibility of the healing and recovery were relatively small. As the back then the phone was not available like its Nowadays, so the authorities knew to take an infected person to the north brother island, without saying anything to their families. Moreover, those who have died on the north brother island, until the end of life have not made contact with their families.

The conditions on the north brother island were very primitive, hastily built huts and tents, situated around a central Riverside Hospital, which was responsible for such cases. During storms and bad weather, the ferries were not going to the north brother island, so it was often a shortage of food and fuel.
To be sent to the island among immigrants was considered as a death sentence. Those who are lucky enough to return to the island testified about conditions unworthy of any man.

Finally, the city authorities have decided to improve the situation on the north brother island by building a better accommodation and has been brought, an extra medical staff to provide better care of patients.
After that, the north brother island was mainly a centre for tuberculosis patients, but also for those who were suffering from venereal disease. In 1942, the centre was closed for the first time to make room for the veterans of the Second World War, which was the temporary accommodation. However, the idea of the centre for veterans was not realized, and in 1952, the centre got its last transformation. For the short time, the centre served as the institution where they conducted the experimental program of treatment of young drug addicts. When that project failed the centre was closed. Moreover, so is the island was left to the mercy of time to future generations witnessed some long gone times.

Today, the island was officially opened only for a few people who are studying a group of rare birds on the island and for police officers who are from time to time patrolling the island, looking for unwanted guests attempting to enter the “forgotten” island.

Post Author: Dr Dee

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