Goldwater Hospital, Roosevelt Island NYC

April 9th, 2015 by

It's a warm summer night and we're waiting, lurking in the dark along the shore of Roosevelt Island. Tonight we've got a crew 6 deep with a single target: the old Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island. Demolition work has begun, and the island's rent-a-cop 'public safety officers' are patrolling around southpoint (the land just south of the hospital). As soon as they've cleared the area, we're across the road, through the fence and up to the roof.

Goldwater hospital was built in 1939 and over the decades came to specialize in care for wheelchair-bound individuals. It was specifically designed to allow for significant green space and solariums where patients could be exposed to natural light and air. It was named after Dr. Sigismund Schulz Goldwater, who was the NYC health commissioner under Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

Quite a bit has already been written about Goldwater and its patients, so I won't dwell on it long. Within the next two weeks, the last of the buildings will be leveled, to make way for a new graduate technology campus for Cornell University.

If you're on this site, chances are you like history but love adventure, so let's get back to that rooftop shall we?

As we lurk around on the southernmost building's rooftop (Building A), we spy on some utility works and the island safety patrol. Roosevelt island is a strange place in terms of security, and exploring here over the last 20 years has always been an adventure. Some spots, like Southpoint (and the Renwick ruin) were fairly tightly secured, while others (the old octagon (what was left of it) and nurses quarters) were a breeze.

Tonight is no different. Our goal for the night depends on who you ask. Half the crowd wants to get to the massive morgue rumored to still be in the northernmost building. I'm a bit more fixed on getting to that building for a few shots of the view from the roof. So at least we're all heading in the same direction...

Between us laid an obstacle course of security and building demolition. Roughly halfway through was the C building, which was still very much intact and hosting a security trailer in full view of long central hallway (where the windows were already removed). Good thing there's that basement level to the central hall right?

Well, the bad thing is most of it was being asbestos abated. That doesn't stop a stubborn explorer. Masks on, shirt over the face, or just inhaling and becoming fireproof. The choice is yours, adventure seeker. It's either that or turn back and go home.

None of these militant LTV goons know how to turn back though, so onward we pluck our way, building to building, until we're at the north end.

Sure enough there's a huge morgue freezer, but I don't bother to shoot it. Too damn dark for my blood. I head for the roof.

Eventually we've all gotten our fix, and say our farewells to this rather awesome hospital. If I wasn't a technology geek, I might be upset, but I suspect plenty of new history and innovations will come from the Cornell campus. So long as it's not more god damned condos for greedy real estate moguls...

3 responses to “Goldwater Hospital, Roosevelt Island NYC”

  1. Love the roof shots!

  2. dock says:

    Very well said in the last paragraph:

    “I might be upset, but I suspect plenty of new history and innovations will come from the Cornell campus. So long as it’s not more god damned condos for greedy real estate moguls…”

    We get a bad rap for being helpless romantics, stuck in the past, opposed to progress — I am not opposed to progress. Lining a slumlord’s pockets with gold is not progress, especially when the cost is New York’s soul.

    A scientific research campus? Now that’s progress.

  3. chrisfyb says:

    Or just inhaling and becoming fireproof! Haha.

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  • About The Author

    Bad Guy Joe

    Bad Guy Joe
    Bad Guy Joe knows more about the NYC underground than anyone else on or below the surface of this planet. He has spent nearly 30 years sneaking into NYC's more forbidden locations. When not underground, he's probably bitching about politicians or building something digital. 
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