02-03-2012, 08:36 AM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Creepy cool North Brother Island former leper colony pictures
Visit link to see pictures...from The Daily Mail (UK) online edition:
Inside the lost island of New York: Eerie pictures of the abandoned leper colony just 350 yards from the Bronx
By Liz Hazelton
Last updated at 8:46 AM on 2nd February 2012
Stairwells strewn with debris and walls crumbling slowly to dust, it is the island that New York forgot for 50 years.
Now, in a series of extraordinarily eerie pictures, the lost world of North Brother - quarantine zone, leper colony and centre for drug addicts - has been brought back to life.
It is hard to believe that these echoing corridors and abandoned halls were home to hundreds of patients - or that a criss-cross of tree-lined avenues were once roads.
But the haunting quality of these pictures makes it easy to imagine that it was a place of indescribable misery, which one inmate compared to the notorious black hole of Calcutta.
Just 350 yards from the crowded tenements of the Bronx, North Brother Island was first employed as a quarantine centre in 1885.
It was soon a home to six lepers. Its most notorious resident was 'Typhoid Mary' - the first healthy carrier of any disease ever to be identified - who spent years confined in its bleak woods.
North Brother Island was also witness to America's worst disaster until the 9/11 attacks - the 1904 fire onboard the passenger ship, General Slocum which killed 1,021 people, mainly women and children on a church outing.
Closed in 1963, it is now a haunting labyrinth of crumbling ruins.Protected birds are its only inhabitants and the waters around the island are patrolled by armed coastguards who ensure the sanctity of the former quarantine zone is never violated
Meanwhile, the hospital, staff and patient quarters and forced drug rehabilitation centres are slowly reverting to nature.
These pictures were taken by local historian and photographer Ian Ference who was given unprecedented access to the site. He has slowly pieced together the forgotten story of this unique landscape.
'This has got to be one of America's most important places to visit,' he said. 'Historically it has had a notorious and sometimes sinister reputation.
'It was established as a forced quarantine camp for people suffering from infectious and often fatal diseases such as typhoid, scarlet fever, yellow fever and typhus. There were six people suffering from leprosy confined here in wooden huts.
More...See more from photographer Ian Ference, who captured these images
'New York was taking in a huge number of immigrants in the late nineteenth and earth twentieth centuries - and new arrivals were forced to live in crowded and unsanitary conditions.
'Diseases would inevitably spread and once the health authorities identified a person as having a communicable disease they were seized and forced to live on North Brother Island - unless they were rich enough to afford a private clinic.
'Conditions were bad - the mortality rate among patients was high and the recovery rate low.
'There was no telephony in those early days so once people were grabbed and taken there - they were often never heard from again by their families.'
The island is officially only open to a select few bird experts, who have a particular interest in its colony of black-crowned night herons, and city patrol officers - though a number of bloggers have detailed illicit trips to its shores.
Mr Ference has been given special dispensation to document its secrets.
'I've been aware of the history of the island since the 1990s but only began seriously studying the history in 2003,' he said. 'I decided I wanted to go and see the place myself.
'In 2008, I managed to get NYC park's department permission to shoot the island. I've visited around 15 times since then, documenting what remains and the process of decay.
'I'm truly fortunate to have been given this exclusive access to one of America's most significant forbidden places.'
North Brother Island is situated in the Hell Gate, a treacherous section of the East River between The Bronx and Riker’s Island.
Its first inhabitants were those unfortunate patients with communicable diseases such as smallpox, tuberculosis, scarlet fever and diphtheria, who were forcibly removed from the city’s teeming streets.
Living conditions were primitive, a hotch-potch of pavilions, tents and cottages flung up around the central Riverside Hospital.
When bad weather stopped ferries from running there were food shortages and in winter, frequently little heat. Incarceration on North Brother was often a death sentence. Those who did return from its shores spoke of a hellish environment like ‘the black hole of Calcutta.’
With the dawn of the 20th century, city authorities made a desperate attempt to clean up North Brother with better buildings and improved care.
The island was now mainly a home for tuberculosis patients – and for those suffering from venereal disease.
In 1942, it closed for the first time before being used to house World War Two veterans who were studying in the city.
But this idea was quickly abandoned. In 1952, it underwent its final transformation, hosting an experimental programme to treat juvenile drug addicts. When this, too, failed, the North Brother was left to the ravages of time.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz1lKUOP8Wa