NY’s Mysterious Island Almost Nobody Is Allowed to Visit

North Brother Island is an abandoned island near New York City believed to be haunted. Brave visitors report strange activity that could be explained by the dark stories that plague its past!

New York City

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The most populous city in the United States, with buildings disappearing into the sky, city streets filled with diversity, and lights twinkling at all hours of the night. It’s the city that never sleeps — it’s magical. But there’s a dark island awaiting in the shores of Manhattan…

The East River

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The abandoned island lies in the East River. Here we can see waterway that used to be teeming with maritime trade as the city’s main sea-lane and port.

The Mysterious Place Is Found at the Northern Inlet

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The 16-mile-long river is far less traveled, nowadays, and only the ghosts of a once lively waterway remain.

Abandoned For More Than Five Decades

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There is an island where nature has been slowly eating away at the structures that used to house thousands of people every year.

North Brother Island

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The mysterious island is called North Brother Island. In 1885, Riverside Hospital used the island to quarantine and treat patients who contracted smallpox. Turns out there was only one way off the island.

Only Cured Patients Were Allowed to Leave

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You were forced to stay at the hospital as long as you were contagious. Patients who couldn’t be cured would be forced to spend the rest of their lives there.  And their remains were required to be buried there.

The Place Is Now Vacant But It Is Said Ghosts Haunt the Derelict Buildings

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Vines extend up the sides of the buildings and consume the brick structures that are spread out for more than 20 acres. Windows are shattered, both by vines and unwanted visitors sneaking onto the island. The only way to visit the island is to get explicit permission from the Parks Department. They’ll usually only grant permission to people conducting research, and then getting there is an ordeal…

There Are No Docks

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Since the island lacks docks or ports, getting there is a challenge. Visitors have to take a small motorboat or rowboat and essentially beach themselves just to step foot on its shores. 

Remote and Inaccessible

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 But that hasn’t stopped explorers from visiting over the years.

The Island Has an Eerie Reputation


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Countless dark stories plague the island, and the stories continue to multiply. First, there was this tragic accident…

The PS Slocum

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On June 15, 1904, PS Slocum, a side-wheel passenger ship, was hosting a boat ride for the St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. They sailed from New York City to the North Shore of Long Island, but soon things would turn into a nightmare.

There Was A Fire

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The fire that  broke out on the ship spread quickly throughout the boat. But instead of turning back to port, Captain William Henry Van Schaick headed towards North Brother Island instead.

Many Passengers Didn’t Survive

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Fire engulfed the boat — it was either drown or burn. Only 321 passengers from the 1,358 on board could swim to the shore and survived. In the aftermath, hundreds of corpses washed up on the shores of North Brother Island.

Another Island Legend


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Since North Brother Island was successfully containing the smallpox outbreaks, they expanded the quarantine quarters to other diseases. Among them, typhoid.

Typhoid Mary

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Mary Mallon, A.K.A. Typhoid Mary was a cook in New York City and an asymptomatic carrier of the disease, (Mary carried the disease inside her but it never infected her.) Typhoid fever is contracted by the ingestion of contaminated food or water, and the disease seemed to follow Mary throughout her cooking jobs over the years. A researcher became suspicious and launched an investigation. It was believed that she infected over 50 different people, three of whom died. She was forcibly taken to North Brother Island where she lived in isolation for three years. She was later released with one simple rule: no cooking! But Mary didn’t listen.

Mary Was Forced To Return To The Island

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She changed her name and continued working as a cook. When outbreaks started occurring she just moved on to the next job. She was able to keep it up for five years until she was finally caught and forced to return to North Brother Island.

She Was Reckless and a Threat to the City.

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She spent the next 23 years of her life on that island. She refused to let them take out her gallbladder, which is where the disease lived because she didn’t think she was a carrier of the disease.

The Famous Patient Died

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In 1932, she had a stroke that left her completely paralyzed. She spent the next six years lying in bed until she contracted pneumonia and died in 1938.

The Hospital Became a Cruel Drug Rehabilitation Center

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Drug addicts were locked in cells with just a mattress and a waste bucket. Some didn’t survive.

The Island Was Abandoned in 1963

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Eventually, the rehab center also shuttered its doors. Everything was left in place, but all of the buildings and other items left behind have since been reclaimed by nature.

The Haunting Began

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Visitors have reported hearing strange sounds, seeing malfunctioning electronics, and feeling sensations of being touched during their urban explorations. Others recall feeling an overwhelming sense of misery as they roamed through the wasteland.

Abandoned by Its Inhabitants

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Its remote and abandoned state seems to be permanent now and it will continue to erode and crumble to the ground. Left to slump into obscurity and ruin, all that will remain are its secrets and ghosts.

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