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North Brother Rediscovered: Stunning Photos Of Abandoned NYC Island

Curators’ Corner

North Brother Rediscovered: Stunning Photos Of Abandoned NYC Island

Most native New Yorkers know the geography of their city better than they know themselves. Ask a born-and-bred New Yorker for directions to Yankee Stadium, and you’ll likely get a pinpoint response without hesitation. But if you ask about the history and whereabouts of North Brother Island, even the most seasoned city slicker will probably bat an eyelid.

North Brother is an uninhabited 20-acre island located in the East River between the Bronx and Queens. Starting in the 1880s, the island housed a hospital and later a drug treatment facility for troubled adolescents. In 1963, the island was abandoned and transformed into a bird sanctuary. Very few have been to North Brother since.

With permission from the New York City Parks and Recreation, photographer Christopher Payne was given access to NYC’s version of ‘Shutter Island,’ photographing the abandoned buildings and facilities that have remained untouched for over 50 years.

His photography not only captures the exterior ruin, but also the books, desks, chairs and bed frames from patients past – fascinating remnants of a society long gone.

Payne’s photographs are compiled in a book titled, North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place In New York City. The book was released this spring and can be purchased here.

Photographs via Christopher Payne