Greenpoint Hospital: Nurses Residence

October 27, 2010 -

The Greenpoint Hospital was built in 1914 and served North Brooklyn for more then six decades before closing in 1982. Located in East Williamsburg, the seven towers of this hospital campus are currently used as apartments, a homeless shelter, and a new community space. However, one building remains abandoned - the former nurses residence, which is at the center of a contentious 28-year-old neighborhood struggle. Inside this empty four-story complex are hundreds of tiny rooms, which once were used to house the homeless. On lower floors, a vanished community of squatters has left behind their belongings, including shoes, beds, and a VHS copy of "Runaway Bride." On upper floors, a huge colony of pigeons has taken roost. The air is thick with choking fumes from mountains of bird droppings.

The Nurses Residence

When the Greenpoint Hospital was open, it provided emergency care for the surrounding community, including injured police officers. On February 3rd, 1971,"Frank Serpico's inert, blood soaked form was wheeled into the Emergency Room," according to "Serpico" by Peter Maas. Serpico, a NYC policeman, had been "shot in the face during a 1971 drug bust while screaming for backup from his fellow officers, who then failed to immediately call for an ambulance," according to the NY Times. Three month after his suspicious shooting, Serpico, a known whistle-blower, provided the key testimony in "New York's single largest police corruption case... [in] almost 20 years," according to the NY Times. His story was immortalized in a 1973 film starring Al Pacino that, according to the NY Times, "seared the public memory with painful images: of the honest cop bleeding in a squad car rushing to the hospital, where, over months of rehabilitation, he received cards telling him to rot in hell."

Rotting Crutch

In 1981, the city closed the Greenpoint Hospital Methadone Clinic, which had been widely praised for combating the neighborhood's "growing heroin problem," according the NY Times. Soon after, the entire hospital complex was closed "due to financial struggle" and, to the surprise of residents in the area, "just five months after it was shuttered—the city began shuttling homeless men onto the premises in the middle of the night, creating a makeshift homeless shelter without community consent," according to a Greenpoint Gazette article titled "The Greenpoint Hospital Debacle."

The first homeless shelter was opened in 1983, according to the NY Times, with a capacity for 300 men. A second shelter for 100 men opened in 1985, according to the NY Times, "on the third and fourth floors of [the] former nurses residence." A list of shelter rules still hangs in the dining hall of the nurses residence, and includes entries like Rule #10 - "A resident shall not be restrained or locked in a room at any time." Eventually, the hospital campus "housed more than 1,200 homeless men, at which point the community decided it had had enough," according to The Greenpoint Gazette. "We were clearly overburdened,” one resident told the newspaper. “At first there were 40 men, then it escalated to 1,200. All we wanted was community control over the site, and the city wouldn’t give it to us."

In The Dining Hall

In 1996, the NY Times reported that "for more than a decade, community groups have fought to get a nursing home built for Greenpoint's growing elderly population. But their efforts to build the home on the site of the old Greenpoint Hospital campus have competed with the city's need to house the homeless... Community residents have marched in the streets and even shut down the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in their attempts to persuade the city to reduce the shelter's population to 200 men to pave the way for their nursing home plan. Now the city has promised to find alternate shelter for the... homeless, clearing a key obstacle to the groups' plan."

More than a decade later, the nurses residence remains empty. The building and an unused lot in front of it are the key elements to the neighborhood's plan to build a nursing home. In April 2010, however, the city made the "controversial decision to award the site to two non-Brooklyn development companies," according to The Brooklyn Paper, despite a competitive bid from an alliance of neighborhood groups which had dedicated "25 years of advocacy for developing the site." In September 2010 the city upheld its support for awarding this $32 million project to an outside developer, according to The Brooklyn Paper, despite protests, appeals and a rally at City Hall that "delivered 3,000 signed letters" to Mayor Bloomberg asking him to reverse his decision, according to the Brooklyn Eagle. Currently, "The Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation, a group of local nonprofits snubbed for the contract, is suing to overturn the decision," according to the NY Daily News.

At the developer's website, Great American Construction Corp, the Greenpoint Hospital is described as "the largest of the public sites committed to by the Bloomberg Administration as part of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning. The site... consists of a 59,600-square-foot vacant City-owned parcel and a vacant 4-story structure that formerly served as a nurses’ residence..." on which they plan to "build a total of 240 affordable units." There is no mention of a nursing home.

With the development of the Greenpoint Hospital site pending, these photos take a last look inside the abandoned interior of the Nurses Residence.

Entrance



Ground Floor Ruins



Grand Hall Entry



Grand Hall



Residential Corridor



1-04: Conference Room



Conference Room Shoes



313 X



"Drugs Don't Work"



409 Pigeon




1996 Office




"This Job is a Test"



Dark Passage



Squatter's Bedroom



Dead Pigeon



4th Floor Fumes

38 comments:

  1. Wow, awesome photos, interesting story.

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    1. i was born at greenpoint hospital in 1967, how can i find my birth records there.

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    2. i actually worked for the company that microfilmed the records. we were given the keys to the front door some time around 1983, we went in and boxed the records up and took them to JR micrographics in huntington on long island. they were put on microfilm there. maybe they could help.

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  2. Neighborhood WatcherOctober 27, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    The real reason why this happened is that Vito Lopez is getting revenge against St. Nick's for resisting some of his more corrupt dealings. But they can't say that publicly.

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  3. Neighborhood WatcherOctober 27, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    Oh, but where are my manners? Yes, stunning, stunning photos, thank you!

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  4. Careful of those bird fumes; the dried droppings can carry psitticosis, a very dangerous fungal infection of the lungs. Wash shoes before re-entering your home etc. Seriously. (Found this stuff out when we--oh, you don't want to know.)Oh, and--awesome photography, research, and exploring chops.

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  5. Just rewatched Serpico last night, lots of Brooklyn footage near the end of the film.

    After Frank Serpico was shot in the face at 788 Driggs Avenue and saved by a resident who called an ambulance, he was brought to Greenpoint Hospital.

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  6. I could spend hours on this chilly Sunday looking through your photos but I must get up and take my life back! :)

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  7. can't believe you got inside this place, it was locked up tight & very forbidding -- as with all your posts, great photos and back story

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  8. I was born in this hospital fierst time viewing it its sad.I was last there in 1978 when i was born.

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    1. I was born there too in 1978. I just searched to see the place where I was born, and I found this...so sad!

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    2. Got you guys both beat. I was born there in 1964. Was thinking of bringing my moms to see it. What do you guys think?

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    3. I was born there in 1946 and this is the first time seeing the hospital. I lived in Williamsburg until 1967 and my parents left in 1979. There seemed to be a shame associated with the hospital, now I know why.

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  9. My Dad was born at Greenpoint in January 1949. Nice piece of history you have.

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  10. This is so sad to see. They saved my life at this hospital in a number of respiratory emergencies. Later, as a college student, I worked at the hospital, in this particular building. It's depressing to look at something that is an important part of your history so neglected. :(

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  11. Can't believe what it's become. I was born there in 1961.

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  12. Thanks for sharing your photographs Mr. Kensinger!

    Afro-American Male baby born at Greenpoint Hospital in 1963.

    "Cross Into The Blue" (S)o

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  13. Wow, Looking at these photo's bought back memories. I was born in Greenpoint Hospital in December 1952. I remember the good old days.

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    1. Unbelievable. I worked as Surgical Department Secretary in 1960's when The Jewish Hospital and Medical Center of Brooklyn. We started from scratch after Mount Sinai left. The hospital became accredited by JCAHO had a wonderful FREE OPD. These pictures are sad since we were happy there and enjoyed our jobs.

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  14. I WAS NOT BORN ON GREENPOINT BUT I WAS ALWAYS SICK AND MY MOTHER WOULD ALWAYS TAKE ME TO GREENPOINT. SHE WOULD SAY THAT YOUR SECOND HOUSE.

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  15. I remember visiting Greenpoint when I was in Kindergarten. My brother was also born there in 1975. It is ashame there is so much history gone to ruins.

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  16. My son was born there in 1976..anybody know where i can get his hospital records?? I now live in Florida.

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    1. jr micrograghics in huntington might be able to help, i worked for them and took the records from two sheds on the roof. When i was there it had just closed, it was as if everyone left 5 minutes before we got there. still have a jar of pulled teeth i found. good luck

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  17. When we emigrated to the U.S. in 1970, The Nurses Residence at Greenpoint Hospital was the first place me, my parents and my three sisters lived.

    It's sad to see this photos of the building disused and abandoned.

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  18. Kensinger, this is genuinely a great piece of work -- It's truly satisfying to those very interested and respectful of NYC History.

    It would be great to see a Wikipedia entry for this landmark! Of course, not that you need anything else added to your to-do list I'm sure -- It should be noted however, that this blog entry would make a great reference :)

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  19. Nice photos.You are awesome.Thank for sharing this.
    Regards:Best Hospital India

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  20. I WOULD NEVER FORGET GREENPOINT. IT WILL ALWAYS BE IN MY HEART.

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  21. March 31 1941. I was born there. That was a long time ago. Now I live in Alabama. Go figure. Boy from Brooklyn in Alabama.

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  22. my brother and I were born there 1959-1960 my son was in 1978...so sad to see it has gone to ruins...could have been an amazing place if it had been taken care of...I grew up across the street from it..Wonder if its haunted..:O)

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  23. I was born in greenpoint hospital, but if i don't see this photos i won't be able to see this hospital at lease in this condition, because i don't live in the continental states. I still have the original black certificate of birth that they used to give when i born in 1963. Thanks for this photos.

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  24. Wow! who knew the hospital I was born in had so much history!! My mom and I love the pics it help her remember a lot of things about the hospital! Thanks!!

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  25. Wonderful pictures, I had an aunt that lived there with other rn's during 1974, she would have me spend the weekend with her there. We woould cook in the large kitchen and share with the other nurses. Then the rn's would wear all white with pill box hats and seam stockings, so elegant! I miss that, thanks for the memories.

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  26. Wow wasn't born there buy remember jumping school fence @ PS 17 and metal hook that ties fence to pole split my leg a bit. Went to Greenpoint & received 6 stitches. When returning to OPD to remove stitches we waited over 3 hours only to hear they didn't have stitch removing scizzors lol. My dad took me home and removed it himself.... BTW fantastic pics

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  27. My father was born in this hospital on April 16, 1929. He was given up for adoption right after birth by his mother, 20 year old un-wed girl. I am trying to find out what happened to her...I have tracked down much info on her prior to his birth, but then nothing.

    Any helpful tips would be great.

    I just found out my father was born here in the last few days...it's a bit surreal finding out the circumstances of his birth. The pictures are really something and fills in another piece of the puzzle.

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  28. I was born in 1969, but my parents move to P.R. on 1971, thank to this photos I can see how it was in the past and now. Thanks

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  29. I was born in this hospital in 1946.

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  30. wow.finally got my mother to tell me where i was born and to look it up and see this it is sad.i was born at greenpoint hospital in 1981.

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