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Rockland State Hospital


Rockland State Hospital was born in tragedy: after a 1924 fire at Ward's Island where patients burned alive, Orangeburg, NY was selected as the site of a new facility to relieve overcrowding in other psychiatric hospitals. Considered the best planned hospital in the world, Rockland State Hospital opened in 1931 andgrew quickly; its 600-acre campus would go from treating 5,768 to over 9,000 patients.

As with many state hospitals, many qualified personnel were drafted in World War II, leaving only untrained and sometimes dangerous staff available. Disease, abuse, and neglect flourished, and desperate measures to control the populace like hydrotherapy, lobotomies, and insulin shock treatment came and went. Eventually, the rise of psychotropic medications allowed the push for deinstitutionalization to gain steam. By the 1970s most of the patients had been discharged and while there were still outpatient treatment facilities, most of the campus was abandoned. Renamed Rockland Psychiatric Center, a few of the unused buildings were reused (including, rather bizarrely, Kid's Corner Day Care Center, which was later abandoned itself), but most were left in ruins.

Once said to be one of the largest intact psychiatric facilities in the United States, Rockland State Hospital is no more: in 2018 the campus was unceremoniously razed after a sale to JPMorgan Chase for $7.5 million, and will become the site of a data center.

Photographs and unattributed text by Matthew Christopher. For more images click the thumbnails below.
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Barber's Chair
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Bowling Alley
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Bowling Shoes
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Hidden by Trees
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Veins
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Sr. Seuss Toy
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Hanging Coats
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Day Care Cubby
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Day Care Playroom
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Where the Wild Things Were
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | New York Murals
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Vandalized Theater
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Trashed Playroom
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Cookie Monster's Den
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Cluttered Desk
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | The Road to Growing Up
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Skylights
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Copyright Infringement
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Kids Corner
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Bedside Vigil
Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, NY) | Lion King