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North Brother Island is an island in the East Rivermarker situated between the Bronxmarker and Riker's Islandmarker. Its companion, South Brother Islandmarker, is a short distance away. The island was uninhabited until 1885, when Riverside Hospital moved there from the island now known as Roosevelt Islandmarker. Riverside Hospital was founded in the 1850s as the Smallpox Hospital to treat and isolate victims of that disease; its mission eventually expanded to other quarantinable diseases. Typhoid Mary was confined to the island for over two decades until she died there in 1938. The hospital closed shortly thereafter.

After World War II, the island housed war veterans who were students at local colleges, along with their families. After the nationwide housing shortage abated, the island was once again abandoned.

In the 1950s a center opened to treat adolescent drug users. The facility claimed to be the first to offer treatment, rehabilitation, and education facilities to young drug offenders. Heroin addicts were confined to this island and locked in a room until they were clean. Many of them believed they were being held against their will (as one person wrote on the wall). By the early 1960s widespread staff corruption and patient recidivism forced the facility to close.

The island is currently abandoned and off-limits to the public. Most of the original hospitals buildings still stand, but are heavily deteriorated and in danger of collapse. A dense forest conceals the ruined hospital buildings and supports one of the area's largest nesting colonies of Black-crowned Night Heron.

The island was the site of the wreck of the SS General Slocum, a steamship which burned on June 15, 1904. Over 1,000 people died either from the fire on board the ship or from drowning before the ship was beached on the island's shores.

Together, the two Brother Islands, North and South, have a land area of .

In The Media

  • North Brother Island was featured in episode 8 ("Armed and Defenseless") of "Life After People" on the History Channel. It was used as an example of what would happen to structures after 45 years without humans.


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