North Brother Island is nestled in the East River between Rikers Island and the Bronx. In 1885, the island was obtained by New York City from Morrisania, a town in the Bronx. The North Brother Island acquisition was for the building of the Riverside Hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases. The isolation of North Brother Island made it the perfect place to quarantine patients from infecting the outside world while being able to recooperate.
North Brother Island was often overrun with sickened patients during peak seasons of infectious disease. So much so that Riverside Hospital had to erect tents and pavilions in order to provide shelter to patients that wouldn’t fit inside the buildings. This lead to more sickness and other dangerous circumstances when wood burning stoves were used to heat the cloth tents and pavilions.
After providing a home for those infected with smallpox, polio, typhoid, scarlet fever, tuberculosis and measles a new pavilion was built to house new patients with tuberculosis. The new pavilion on North Brother Island proved futile as there was not enough stuff to run it. The pavilion then became home to college students after the GI Bill was passed.
In 1952 it was decided that the Riverside Hospital was become a rehabilitation center for youths with addictions. They could stay in the hospital for up to six months for treatment. The North Brother Island hospital would house up to 100 boys and 50 girls until its demise when it was closed due to suspected corruption.
The North Brother Island was abandoned by New York City in 1963. Once a home to a hospital for infectious disease and the legendary Typhoid Mary, the North Brother Island now sits in a desolate state becoming overgrown with plant life and organic matter. The only human life to see North Brother Island in its current state is the patrol that watches over the island due to its neighboring Rikers Island prison complex.