Abandoned Places in New York

Yasmin Gulec
The Red Hook Grain Terminal in Brooklyn has been abandoned since 1965

New York is a city with many opportunities for exploring. It has everything you could ever ask for from a vibrant and populous city. However, there is another side of New York that appeals to young discoverers, artists and people who just want cool photos to post on Instagram. In big cities like New York, aside from the traditional landmarks to photograph, there is an abundance of old, abandoned buildings that, in their neglect, have turned into beautiful, gloomy ruins.

Going to abandoned places is risky. Many of them are not, technically speaking, open to the public, which means that entering them is trespassing. Secondly, it is sometimes physically difficult to enter a building, so people usually bring ropes and ladders. Discovering these places can also be frustrating, because there is often no way for you to enter the building, and then you have to carry all your equipment back. However, the trouble is worth it because at the end of the day you are able to go into a place not many can enter, see a very beautiful old building, take amazing photos and imagine all the things that happened in that place before it was deserted.

Here are a few abandoned places that you can visit (at your own risk) to discover a whole other side of New York.

Red Hook Grain Terminal

30 Halleck St., Brooklyn

This is an old abandoned grain elevator in the Red Hook neighborhood. It was closed after experiencing financial problems. This old factory is where the music video for Lorde’s song “Team” was shot. The best time to visit to take photos is a couple hours before the sun sets.

Going inside the terminal is tricky. It includes climbing and jumping over fences. During the night, there are a lot of workers, so daytime is always a better option. I suggest bringing a rope with you to pull yourself up and comfortable clothing. Do not go with more than four people.

Smallpox Hospital

Roosevelt Island

For people who want to experience a scene straight out of a horror movie, this is the perfect place. It was used in the 1800s to keep infected people away from healthy people. The hospital is a Gothic-style building that became darker and gloomier the more it fell into disrepair. Contrary to what happens to many other abandoned buildings, the Landmarks Preservation Commission declared it a city landmark. The restoration is bound to happen soon, so if you want to see this old building, do it soon. The building can be seen, with all its glory, from behind fences, but if you want to see the inside you will have to work a little harder. While you are there, you can also visit the Four Freedoms Park, the Blackwell Island Lighthouse and the Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

Fort Tilden

169 Breezy Point Blvd., Breezy Point, NY

Fort Tilden is one of the easiest places you can visit as an abandoned place enthusiast. There is a collection of things you can see there: the beach, sand dunes, baseball fields, unpaved paths and forts. Although the structures are not as interesting as other abandoned buildings, the beauty of Fort Tilden comes from its ghost town vibe. Seek out the back road bike trails that lead to Battery Harris East and West, structures that used to house nuclear missiles during the Cold War, now covered in street art. Many people go there and discover with bikes, but if you do not have one, trekking will be fine too.

New York City Farm Colony

Brielle Ave., Staten Island, NY

A former poor house, this is also one of the more accessible ruins in New York City. After it was abandoned, it became a burial place for kidnapped children. Teenagers in the ’70s would come here to play paintball and drink beer. This place is great to have a scary movie experience, not only because of the state of the building but also because of the horrific history of people discovering dead bodies there. A project to create condos in the area, which will end in 2017, has begun, so there has been some construction going on — but there are still traces of this creepy place left.

Rockaway Beach Branch Rail Line

66th Ave., Rego Park, Queens

This rail line initially connected Brooklyn with the beaches in Rockaway, but the service was cancelled in 1962 after an increase in subway usage. The rail lines are abandoned and very suitable for hipster photoshoots and hiking. You do not have to break in because it is out in the open, without any fences. However, you still should not go alone and should always be aware of what’s going on around you. Being surrounded by trees and everything green is also a great break from the chaos in New York City.

Email Yasmin Gulec at [email protected]

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