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Weird History

The Strange History Of New York's Uninhabited North Brother Island

North Brother Island has a long history of disease and devastation. Once home to a rehab facility and a hospital that specialized in infectious illness, the island lies abandoned today. Nature has taken over; buildings are covered in foliage so dense it sometimes obscures the structures altogether. It may not have the creepy legacy of Central Park, but North Brother has plenty of infamy scattered through its unusual history.

Before being designated a bird sanctuary, it had seen its fair share of sickness and corruption. But while it did serve as the involuntary home of Typhoid Mary during the last two-plus decades of her life, the island has not been declared legally haunted.

Structural safety concerns have prompted the city of New York to close the land to the public. Although there have been discussions about reopening certain areas, and reporters and city officials are allowed to visit with the approval of the Parks Department, North Brother's reopening would require substantial work.

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