Atlas Obscura's Islands of the Undesirables, Part 3: North Brother Island

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A street on North Brother Island.

In a series titled Islands of the Undesirables on collaborative historical website Atlas Obscura, historian and journalist Bess Lovejoy highlights five of the New York islands where we have stored our sick, criminals and unwanted residents.

Earlier this week, part 1 of the series covered Roosevelt Island. Yesterday, part 2 covered Randalls and Wards Island. Today, the series tackles The Bronx’s North Brother Island.

At first glance NBI is the most unexpected of places: an uninhabited island of ruins in New York City, a secret existing in plain sight that hardly anyone knows. Yet it was once an ordinary part of the city, and for over eighty years, from the 1880s until its abandonment in 1963, thousands of people called it “home”.

The full article features an interview with Christopher Payne, one of the only photographers who has been granted access to the island. Payne’s book North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City is available for purchase on Amazon.

North Brother Island

Matt Coneybeare

Matt Coneybeare

Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

Matt enjoys exploring the City's food scene with his Wife and the outdoors with their three dogs. He is an avid marathon runner, and spends most of his time working from a treadmill desk at home.

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