Hauntings of Roosevelt Island: The Renwick Smallpox Hospital

The Renwick Smallpox Hospital, New York

Roosevelt Island offers some of the most stunning views of New York City, but it also holds a dark secret from the past. Preserved on the island is what is left of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital. An imposing castle-like structure barely left standing.

Site ruin of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital New York.
The imposing structure, which was once the Renwick Smallpox Hospital.

1856 saw this now-abandoned hospital open its doors for the first time to patients. Roosevelt Island was selected as a strategic location for this particular hospital. Since it acted as a natural quarantine, separating the many sick individuals who came through its doors from the rest of New York City’s population.

New York City's Renwick Smallpox Hospital.
A forgotten ruin, in contrast, to the cityscape of New York.

Some estimates put the amount of death to occur within the hospital at 14,000 people. This portrays a high mortality rate for such a small hospital, having just 100 beds. Especially, given that the Renwick Smallpox hospital was only open for 30 years. The main reason for all this death was the intensity and spreadability of disease paired with limited knowledge on how to treat such illnesses during that time in history. Adding to the ghastly history of the hospital is how this amount of death was coped with. It is said that the bodies would be heaped into a great pile, burned and then disposed of in the East River.

Roosevelt Island views.
City views from Roosevelt Island.

Ghosts of Renwick Smallpox Hospital

Such a tragically horrific past sets the mood for ghost stories aplenty. But, can a structure so ruined still harbor paranormal energy? Plenty of visitors seem to think this is still possible.

Abandoned haunted hospital in New York City.
Standing tall as one of New York’s most haunted places.

Although the entire structure of the former Renwick Hospital is now barricaded off for the safety of the general public, this hasn’t stopped ghostly phenomena being reported in the area. Many people have reported unexplainable events when exploring these old hospital ruins. These are typically reported by visitors who have braved exploring Roosevelt Island by night. Countless reports of strange noises in the area exist. These have been described as being human-like but having no apparent source. Furthermore, light anomalies and dark shadow figures have been spotted roaming amongst the ruins.

Ruin Renwick Hospital, New York.
The castle-like rear of the former Renwick Hospital.

Could it be that some of the many former patients of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital have remained trapped on this island? Maybe some of those whose lives were cut short are confused about how to move on, or still have some unfinished business to attend to.

Dark history at the Renwick Smallpox Hospital.
Scaffolding surrounding this crumbling piece of dark history.

Visiting Renwick Smallpox Hospital, Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is accessible by a skylift/tram or by catching the subway. The Hospital is located a short walk from both of these stations. The ruins themselves are not accessible due to the fragility of the structure and visitors can only view the ruins from a safe distance behind a metal fence.

 

Haunted hospital in New York City.
Do ghosts still roam this hospital’s ruins?

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also be interested to learn about other haunted places in New York City.

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

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Amy

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Amy is a world traveller and explorer of creepy locations. She has visited some of the most famously haunted places around the world in search of evidence of the paranormal. Follow Amy's Journey:

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