In this short video by Brooklyn filmmaker Lindsay McAleavy, some of the dark history of Roosevelt Island (formerly Welfare Island, formerly Blackwell’s Island) is exposed, touching on it’s haunted nature reported by residents and visitors. In 1828, the island was home to a City Prison, in 1839 the New York City Lunatic Asylum opened, and in 1856 the Smallpox Hospital was erected. Throughout the 19th century, the island was clearly a place where the City sent the unwanted, fueling superstitions and rumors of haunted buildings and tortured souls.
Ms McAleavy recounts tales by author Charles Dickens (visiting in 1842) and journalist Nelly Bly (1887 10 Days In A Madhouse Investigative Report) of their horrific visits to Roosevelt Island, then named Blackwell’s Island. Ms McAleavy returns to present day Roosevelt Island adding that many current residents, their pets and visitors encounter inexplicable incidents and paranormal activity, perhaps a remnant from the past.
Today, Roosevelt Island is mostly upscale condominiums and apartment buildings, where 12,000 New Yorkers call home.