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Kings Park Psychiatric Center

Established in 1885, and reaching its peak occupancy in 1954, with almost 10,000 patients, the Kings Park Psychiatric Center was one of the largest asylums the world has ever known. For some period of time, it was a self-sufficient "city," with a police force, a fire department, a railroad line, a power plant, farms and manufacturing facilities.

The hospital closed down in 1996, but three buildings remain that still house patients. These buildings are maintained by the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center. Two of the buildings are "group home" buildings, meant to help patients interact with the community, and the third building is called "The Residence By The Sound." It houses chronic patients for whom recovery is a greater challenge. A large portion of the old hospital has been made into a state bird sanctuary, known as Nissequogue River State Park.

The grounds of the hospital are still maintained, but the buildings are not. This dichotomy makes for a surrealistic visual experience, with huge, rotting buildings in a parklike setting.

The photos in these galleries were taken with the permission of the staff at Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, or at the Nissequogue River State Park. Photography is not allowed on the grounds of the hospital without this permission, and most of the hospital grounds are closed to the public.

The image album above contains one hundred images of the Kings Park campus, most taken during 2003. The State of New York is currently negotiating a sale of the land, and we can expect the landscape to change significantly very soon.


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