Once home to a 19th Century smallpox hospital, North Brother Island has long been uninhabited by humans. Not sure which is crazier, that Typhoid Mary used to live there or that there’s a piece of New York real estate so completely underdeveloped.
If you’re interested in learning more, we recommend checking out this mega fun + informative episode of the Bowery Boys podcast The Curious Case of Typhoid Mary.
The northern of the islands was uninhabited until 1885, when Riverside Hospital moved there from Blackwell’s Island (now known as Roosevelt Island). Riverside Hospital was founded in the 1850s as the Smallpox Hospital to treat and isolate victims of that disease. Its mission eventually expanded to other quarantinable diseases.
The island was the site of the wreck of the General Slocum, a steamship which burned on June 15, 1904. Over 1,000 people died either from the fire on board the ship or from drowning before the ship was beached on the island’s shores.
Mary Mallon, also known as Typhoid Mary, was confined to the island for over two decades until she died there in 1938. The hospital closed shortly thereafter.