New York of Yesteryear: Volume 1

74644_18924_cf76faade6_p.jpgAs a child, as my parents would drive me up and down the FDR, I was always fascinated with a mysterious castle-like building that stood at the southern foot of Roosevelt Island, a few yards from the water’s edge. Against the industrial backdrop of coastal Queens, the abandoned structure always looked mystifying, with it’s Gothic look and magnificent masonry. Recently, I was bored at home so I randomly decided to do some research and find out the history of this out-of-place ruin.

As it turns out, this spooky, dark building is actually a former hospital! The Renwick Smallpox Hospital operated from 1856 through 1886 as a quarantine and treatment facility for all local cases of the highly contagious disease. Once the hospital closed, it operated for another 65 years or so as a nurse’s quarters. The building may look familiar, as it’s architect and namesake, James Renwick, also designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Now abandoned for fifty years, the Renwick Hospital stands as New York City’s only landmarked ruin.

Further Reading:
Roosevelt Island
Google Maps
Short YouTube Video
Photos 1
Photos 2

[Image courtesy JPG Magazine]

3 Comments so far

  1. Sara (unregistered) on July 17th, 2007 @ 11:16 am

    I want to have my wedding here. Is that possible, do you think? It’d be romantic!

  2. Eric (unregistered) on July 17th, 2007 @ 2:19 pm

    As a resident of Roosevelt Island and recent new member of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society I can say I have seen a lot of photos of the Renwick Ruin and I have to say those were special.

  3. Noah (unregistered) on July 18th, 2007 @ 3:49 pm

    I am glad you enjoyed, Eric.

    I wonder if you are able to walk up to the place. It looks chained/fenced off, but if people are taking YouTube videos, it must be accessible! Right?

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