Wes and I recently explored the "abandoned" hospital complex on Ellis Island. The facilities, erected for those immigrating to the United States but found too sick to gain entry, have gone unoccupied since 1954. Obviously this was a photography paradise, and the portable power and quality of the Hasselblad X1D rose to the challenge. Even with my eye and mind trained on capturing the story as I saw it, the ruinous halls and rooms and structure were potent reminders of the untold stories and dreams and nightmares this special place holds.
The abandoned Ellis Island Hospital complex—once the standard for United States medical care (and later transformed to the FBI headquarters when the island served as a detention center)—has been left to decay for nearly 60 years. Now, Untapped Cities is bringing you behind-the-scenes for an unique exploration of the abandoned facility; on this experience, you’ll visit the contagious disease wards, the autopsy rooms and have exclusive access to places usually closed to the public.
While Ellis Island has become one of New York City’s top tourist attractions, drawing over two million visitors per year, the 22-building South Side hospital complex is hidden in plain sight, just to the left of disembarking passengers headed towards the Great Hall. Looking at its desolate, skeletal frame now, it’s difficult to imagine its backstory as one of the largest public health undertakings in American history. Join us for our upcoming hard hat tour, guided by a Save Ellis Island docent, where we’ll uncover its many, buried secrets.
For more on JR's powerful work and on the hospital complex itself, check out this New York Times article and JR's website. To help preserve this complex and the very history of Ellis Island itself, visit Save Ellis Island.