NYC Leper Colony
By Mark McConville
IT ISN’T the most welcoming place but this is where lepers would have lived in quarantine should you have been infected with disease in New York at the turn of the 20th century.
Eerie images have revealed the abandoned ruins of a leper colony on an island in New York, that housed the first ever diagnosed asymptomatic carrier of a disease as well as the infamous patient Typhoid Mary.
The haunting pictures show rotting chairs lined up in a large hall and an empty rusting bedframe. Other shots show nature beginning to reclaim the island as vines grow over and through some of the buildings that may have housed Typhoid Mary.
The snaps were taken at North Brother Island using a Canon 5D Mark II by American civil engineer and urban explorer Brendan Clinch (31) from Long Beach, New York.
“I forget exactly how it happened, but the moment I learned there was an abandoned island in NYC, I knew I had to see it,” he said.
“North Brother Island is the reason I own kayaks. People are usually amazed that places like North Brother Island exist, and are just sitting there in ruin.
“I love seeing the corners of society that most people will never get to see. Nothing is permanent. In the end, nature always wins.”
North Brother Island was uninhabited until 1885 when Riverside Hospital moved there. It was originally founded to treat and isolate victims of Smallpox but expanded to other quarantinable diseases.
Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary, is perhaps the most infamous patient. The Irish immigrant, originally from Cookstown in what is now Northern Ireland, is presumed to have infected 51 people, three of whom died.
From 1900 to 1907, Mallon worked as a cook in the New York City area for seven families. No matter where is went an outbreak of Typhoid fever would shortly follow.
In 1907 George Soper, a medical researcher, published the results of his investigation into the matter and he believed Mallon was the source of the outbreaks.
The New York City Health Department held her in isolation on North Brother Island until 1910 when she was freed on the condition she didn’t work as a cook.
Mallon returned to her work as a cook under the name Mary Brown a few years later and was subsequently quarantined after a major outbreak where 25 people were infected and two died.
She lived out her days on North Brother Island until her death in 1938 at the age of 69.
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