North Brother Island, located on the East River between the Bronx and Riker’s Island, was uninhabited until 1885, when the city purchased the island in order to build Riverside Hospital, a hospital for people suffering from contagious diseases such as typhus, tuberculosis, yellow fever, and smallpox. The island’s most famous resident was ‘Typhoid’ Mary Mallon, who was incarcerated there for over twenty years until she died in 1938.

In 1905, over one thousand people lost their lives when the General Slocum steamship set ablaze near the island. Many of the staff assisted in the rescue of some of the 321 survivors. The hospital was reopened after the Second World War, first to house war veterans and later as a treatment for heroin addicts. In 1963, it closed its doors for good and has been left to decay ever since.