The octagon was NYC’s first mental health hospital. It was closed in the 1970s and was set on fire multiple times. The wings of the building were knocked down, leaving only ‘the octagon’ shaped building that was previously the main entrance.
Growing up not far away, I got to see the octagon before the interior was completely destroyed. It looked very much like the photo in this wonderful article that Mr. Smith scanned for our archive. In 2002 I was curious what fate had befallen my old neighbor, so me and M went over to the island to see what the current status was.
The exterior was severely overgrown, and surrounded by a fence that of course had plenty of large holes. The previously open main door was sealed up, though a ladder around back showed promise to entering via the second floor.
That plan of course came to a quick end when we saw that there was no second floor anymore. In fact the entire interior was burned to oblivion with wood shards and debris covering the floor.
We walked away that evening not knowing what would become of this structure. Would the historic significance of it save it from complete demolition? What would the restored Octagon look like, and who would take up such a project?
Next week we’ll take a look at what came next.