Adventure: North Brother Island

I have a new adventure planned.

I am going to sail my ass on a makeshift raft to North Brother Island.

What is North Brother Island? Good question.

I was playing around with Google Earth and was checking out Riker’s Island Penitentiary in detail. You can see the recreation yards and guard towers and all kinds of cool shit. In my mind I always pictured Riker’s to be one massive fortress. This is not the case. It’s a huge multi-facility compound. I didn’t know that.

Anyway, as I swung my aerial view back towards the city I came across a full blown island that I had never heard of. North Brother Island.

North Brother Island is between Riker’s Island and The Bronx sitting in the East River, NYC. It’s a thirteen acre island in the middle of the East River, and lots of New Yorkers don’t even know it exists. There is a reason for that.

North Brother Island is abandoned and off-limits to the public. As such, one might imagine that it has a fascinating history. One would be right. From around 1880 until 1960 the island was home to several hospitals which warranted the quarantining of its patients. Epidemic diseases, mental patients, drug addicts. In 1960 the island was home to what was supposed to be a cutting edge treatment facility for teenage drug addicts. However, widespread staff corruption caused withdrawal of funding and the program closed, as did the island. Aside from the occasional Riker’s Island escapee who uses the island as a temporary haven after a long swim, North Brother Island has been completely abandoned ever since.

I am going to fucking go there.

I’ve done a little research(see: I’ve become completely obsessed) and apparently there are all kinds of cool remnants lying around the ruins of the hospital units. Beds, old medical instruments, solitary cells, padded rooms, all kinds of awesome shit.

I am so fucking jazzed about this.

Rafts will be built. Intel will be gathered. Risks will be taken.

Being that this adventure is absurdly dangerous, I will be recruiting a few more adventurers to come along. The usual adventure crew will be invited–Warren, Sam & Mat. I also invited Tynan of BetterThanYourBoyfriend to jet out from Austin if he’s interested, as I appreciate his taste for adventure.

It’s getting cold, so this may have to wait until spring. We’ll see.

Other interesting things about North Brother Island:

  • A major nautical disaster occured in the East River in 1904 when a ship of daytrippers burned. Over 1,000 of the 1,300 passengers on board were killed. Their bodies washed up on the shore of North Brother Island, as did the ship. Photos and accounts of this are easily accessible with a google search.
  • “Typhoid Mary” spent her last years quarantined in a private cottage on North Brother Island.
  • Since it’s abandonment over 45 years ago, the island and ruins are overgrown with vegetation/vines/ivy and it has become a sanctuary for rare birds.
I am going to North Brother Island.
Fuck, I just might spend the night.


Seriously, how nuts would it be to spend the night in “Typhoid Mary’s” old private cottage?