I parked my truck at the bottom of the circle next to a sign that read, “No Unauthorized Vehicles Beyond This Point”. I grabbed my camera bag, locked the truck and began the trek through the deep, unspoiled snow towards the bizarre artifacts. The abandoned buildings of Kings Park State Hospital or, as it was originally named, the Kings County Asylum. The best way to describe this place is eerie yet adventurous.
How ironic that these buildings left to ruin rise above some of the prettiest landscape on Long Island. Yet their locked exterior walls and broken windows scream out with chaos and injustice. At one time, these buildings had a patient population of over 9,300. What started out as place where rest and relaxation were the preferred prescription for healing had morphed over time into a place where pre-frontal lobotomies and electro-shock therapy became the preferred method of treatment. Finally, in the mid-1950s, drugs like Thorazine were used to dramatically improve the lives of the patients at the Kings Park Psych Center, the patient population began to decrease and the need for this particular state-run facility that operated for 111 years became obsolete.
It was cold so I had to keep moving. With each step I could not believe what I was seeing. My imagination was spinning wildly. This place. So unbelievable. I stopped at every turn, camera at the ready, perhaps to document the unimaginable. I was only able to peek inside of two buildings through gaping holes that vandals of the past had left for me. I really yearned to get inside, physically, and not just with the tip of my camera lens. But it was impossible, as all doors are welded shut and all windows are barred, originally to keep the patients in but these days to keep the gawkers like me out.
I’ve since learned that the buildings remain abandoned and the land unused mainly for public health reasons. The buildings are laden with asbestos. I’ve also learned that entering the buildings are illegal as they are the property of the State of New York. I will venture back there. I’d like to try to acquire a permit of some sort so that I may feed my curiosity that the abandoned buildings of the Kings Park State Hospital have stirred within me.