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Featured Article Of The Week

Central Islip State Hospital


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The Central Islip Psychiatric Center started out as a Farm Colony for New York City in 1889. The patients were transferred from the crowded city asylums on Wards, Hart, and Blackwell Island.

Eventually the asylum was taken over by the state and was renamed the Manhattan State Hospital. The campus consisted of 1000 acres and was the largest asylum by land area. Over 100 buildings were built, 2 of which were quite unique. One being several ward groups connected by corridors that stretched approximately one mile long. The elegant architecture and length of the building led to its name as the "String of Pearls." The other complex with a unique layout was called the "Sunburst," which resembled a spoked wheel - the spokes were treatment wards connected to a central hub, with a curved, circular corridor connecting them all. A fire department with 10 employees was created in 1907, and a large medical building and a secure unit were constructed in the middle of the century.

Therapy consisted in working in the farms or one of the many shops. The center had two rail spurs to serve the main power plant (north colony) and the string of pearls (south colony) and even had its own steam engine. Visitors would also arrive by train and the hospital had its own passenger station. The hospital, later renamed to Central Islip State Hospital and finally known as Central Islip Psychiatric Center, began to become severely overcrowded through the 1950s. It reached its peak population of about 10,000 patients in 1955. Click here for more...