May 28th, 2013

Awash in Red


At the crest of a hilltop in Essex County, NJ, can be found an imposing brick form known as the the Essex County Isolation Hospital.
It has held this lofty position above the town since it was first constructed over 80 years ago, in 1932. Unlike the past three-fourths of a century
however, the massive wings of this 200,000 square foot tower now sit empty and silent, save for the low howl of the wind as it
continuously runs over the high corners of the wards.

These empty chambers operated almost exclusively as an isolation hospital up until 1970, at which time it was re-purposed for use as a geriatric center.
With little need for such a large building, much of the left wing was shuttered during the transition period, and remained so forever after.
Entire corridors of hospital rooms became locked away beyond corroded sets of double-doors, and would know not the touch of man for some forty years.
It is only now, after the hospitals complete closure, that people are beginning to once again venture down the long disused hallways of the sealed wards.
These massive passageways have collectively come to be a kind of cyclopean time capsule, one littered with countless relics from the hospitals old days of service.

Dust covers everything, and serves as a constant reminder that you are trekking ground that has long since been forgotten.
It's cold here. The concrete walls, tile floors, and plaster ceilings have a way of holding onto the stagnate chilled air, in such a fashion that it is easy to imagine
the place to never be warm, even in the height of summer. The visuals carry a cold rawness themselves – The whole of your surroundings is a dull grey,
brought on by the dust and debris that has come to veil anything and everything in a colorless haze. Shadows run plentiful and deep along the lengths
of the halls, inking out distant corners altogether. These wards are now caverns, dark and deep.

Though it has served the community for many generations, and is well known locally for doing so, most will likely recognize the Isolation Hospital
for it's cameo alongside Russell Crowe, in Ron Howard's 2001 film A Beautiful Mind. In the film the hospital was labeled as
the Wheeler Defense Labs at MIT, a school where John Nash (Russell Crow's character) works as an instructor.

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