Every time I got sick as a kid, my mother would call me 'Typhoid Mary.' That was before the internet was a thing, and so I always assumed she was having a bout of amnesia. When I was older, though, I learned that Mary was very real, typhoid was very scary, and this abandoned island hospital in the middle of NYC was where they kept people who had it.

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The 20-acre island sits just offshore from bustling Manhattan, in the spot on the East River between Rikers Island and the Bronx. It was originally home to a 19th century hospital for veterans of WWII, where Mary was a resident until her death in 1938.

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In the 1950s it became one of America's first drug treatment centers for teens. You can probably imagine how that went, yeah? After years of corruption and reports of patient abuse the facility was closed, and the island was abandoned.

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Today, North Brother Island is a bird sanctuary; from 1980- the early 2000s it supported a huge nesting colony of Black-crowned Night Herons. These birds have since abandoned the island, for unknown reasons (probably ghosts.) Most of the original buildings are still standing, slowly being reclaimed by nature. A dense forest has grown up around the hospital, mostly concealing it from view.

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Technically speaking, North Brother Island is off-limits to the public; but it's been a popular spot for urban explorers for years. Who could resist, considering it is also the site of a 1904 shipwreck of the General Slocum, which claimed the lives of over 1,000 people?

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