The morning silence of May 18th, 1927 is splintered as a steam shovel engine rumbles to life.
It's slow-moving maw digs deep into the earth, dislodging a portion of the grassy field in which it sits.
These are the first moments toward the creation of New York's latest psychiatric hospital...
and what was to go on to be one of the largest mental health complexes in the world.
Operating this steam shovel was governor Alfred Emanuel Smith, Jr., who offered this quote shortly thereafter:
"We need a new state hospital (like this one) at least every three years to keep up with the growth
in the number of the committed insane... The state hospitals are today overcrowded about 30 percent,
and the census is growing so rapidly that we can't catch up."
Countless more pieces of construction equipment flowed through the property following that day,
and together they slowly shaped the 600 acres of once-rural field into a sprawling mental health complex.
Like many state-run facilities of this era, it housed its own power plant, and farm-raised much of its own food.
Later on it opened industrial shops crafting mattresses and furniture, primarily operated by the patients who resided there.
Insulin-shock therapy (aka insulin coma therapy) was introduced to the facility in 1937.
This somewhat unheard of, but one-time popular process, consists of injecting the patient with large amounts of insulin,
putting them into a coma on a daily basis. The process typically spanned several weeks in total.
Following insulin-shock therapy, electroshock therapy and lobotomies were also instituted at the facility.
It was hailed as one of the nations best-planned mental health centers.
Though the acclaimed facility's prosperous beginnings may have heralded a bright future,
within it's first ten years of operations the hospital had fallen victim to a blight which effected many other
mental health institutions across the nation at that time; severe overcrowding.
To further worsen matters, the drafts of World War II found much of the hospital staff away at war.
This forced the center to seek out new crew members as quickly as possible. Due to this, many of the personnel
were under-trained and unqualified for the tasks handed to them. Further compounding things,
the hospital lacked the means to properly house and care for the all the patients currently living there.
This found beds being placed in hallways and day rooms, creating a breeding ground for the spread of illness and infection.
1959 marked the peak year for admittance to the hospital, pushing the total patient population to over 7,000.
There was just one psychologist for every 300 patients...
Today the property lies in a strange state...
It has survived all the hardships, and remains a massive and functioning facility focusing primarily on
out-patient treatment, and operating almost exclusively out of new modern buildings.
The original campus is left forgotten, and has come to be overgrown with trees and thick brushwood.
In some cases, between the trees and ivy, entire wings of buildings are lost behind the foliage of summer.
As a molting insect discards its shell as it grows, this facility has shed off its former campus in lieu
of impressive towers which gleam with all the promises and majesty of modern medicine.
Perhaps it is wished that nature reclaim the old campus once again, and with it the dark history contained within.
Whatever the reason for the neglect, this place serves as a symbol to America's great transition in mental health care.
Much like the forest slowly hides away these buildings, time's passing can cause us to forget even the most tragic of events.
To disregard what happened here, and across the country during this time, is to deny meaning to those who lived through it.
After documenting the hospital proper, we made our way over to the more-recently abandoned children's center.
A place which, judging by it's layout and architecture, appears to have been re-purposed from some other use.
This, of course, is just an assumption...
It was whilst in the children's center that we cam across a thing quite strange...
A walled-up archway, which at first glance seems to be nothing unusual, until you notice the missing portion
of sheet-rock, and the pitch black which lies just beyond the exposed wall supports.
(You can see what we speak of in the background of the image above)
Once we passed the threshold, it felt as if we had stepped into a different realm all together.
A long corridor stretched out in front of us, leading into what appeared to be infinite blackness.
The level of decay that lay beyond that new wall is severe, especially compared to the state which the rest of the place is in.
One does wonder to the motives behind sealing away an entire wing of a building, and leaving it to rot.
Regardless, here is what we found...
The following was filmed by Christina.
This video is a bit of a departure for us, both in filming style and in editing...
Most will likely have noticed that I have failed to give out the name of this hospital center, this was a conscious choice.
If you are familiar with the place, that's awesome, just please do not post the name here as a comment.
I do not ask this out of selfishness, but out of respect to those who showed the facility to me.
Thank you, and as always I appreciate everyone who took the time to read/view all this.