School Takes Over One Of New York’s Abandoned Islands

School Takes Over One Of New York’s Abandoned Islands

North Brother Island School for Autistic Children is proposing to take over a desolate land mass in the East River.

Keerthana Jagadeesh
  • 2 july 2013

Not many people know that in between the Bronx and Queens, right in the middle of the East River is North Brother Island that was home to a quarantine hospital from 1885 to 1963. It has been in a state of ruin and disuse for the past 48 years.


The island has a warped history of death and decay having housed the infamous Typhoid Mary, drug rehabilitation centers and tuberculosis sanatoriums. Over the past decades, it has grown terribly unkept with ruins and overgrown vegetation.

The island is closed to the public but this island of despair could be transformed into one of hope and progress in the near future. Architecture students, Ian M. Ellis and Frances Peterson, have proposed that the island’s neglected resources be converted into a school that caters to autistic kids. Proposed as the¬†North Brother Island School for Autistic Children, the project will transform the island and clear its negative stigma.


The layout for the school would renovate the existing buildings on the island and convert the landscapes into courtyards, gardens and playground for children to enjoy. The buildings would be turned into classrooms and housing for the residents. The vegetation will be pruned to establish tidal flats to preserve the Island’s bird population and maintain the habitats of other wildlife.



The  school is still in the stage of proposal review but its goal of transforming this island with a bleak history into a place for nourishing autistic kids is a wonderful way to bring it back to life.

Look through some of the photos of the island and the proposed school below:

North Brother Island School for Autistic Children


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