Simploring 2019 (75) North Brother Island

On June 29th Serene Footman and Jade Koltai opened their newest sim, North Brother Island, “the last unknown place in New York City…
Serene and Jade’s passion is to make forgotten or weired places known to a broader public and in particular to make them accessible, so that you can expierence them, so that you can immerse yourself in these places and in their history.

North Brother Island is located in the East River between Bronx and Rikers Island (a prison island). North Brother Island has an area of about 13 acres. It was not inhabited until 1885. It then was used for isolating small pox and typhiod patients. After World War II, the buildings of the isolation clinic at North Brother Island were used for young drug addicts until the facilities were closed in 1963. Since then the island is uninhabited again, the nature is taking it back and the buildings rot.

some historic pictures of North Brother Island

Before visiting I strongly recommend reading Serene’s blogpost about North Brother Island. It contains a lot of information along with pictures, maps, videos and links.

I heard about North Brother Island before and I already read quite a lot about it. North Brother Island is also the place of the biggest ship disaster in American history. On June 15, 1904, the PS General Slocum, a sidewheel passenger steamboat, caught fire and sank in the East River of New York City at the shore of North Brother Island causing the death of more tham 1,000 people, most of them children with German roots. The ship had been chartered by St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Little Germany district of Manhattan. Read more about this disaster at Wikipedia.

North Brother Island in Second Life – overview and first impressions

Back to North Brother Island itself. Serene and Jade reconstructed some of the major buildings of the clinic and the big rusted crane at the pier. Although it is dangerous to visit the island and enter the rotten buildings in reality, in Second Life you’re safe. Some of the left overs, that are shown in the pictures in Serene’s blogpost, like the chair with the many books on the floor around it, can also be seen in Second Life. But Serene also made use of the artistic freedom and added some other oddities, like a vase with flowers in one window.

Impressions of North Brother Island in Second Life (1)

The main experience is to walk through the dense vegetation and to come across a large building all of a sudden. It’s hard to take a picture of whole buildings due to the vegetation and I assume that is quite like it is in reality. You can see how the nature took back the place. North Brother Island is also a bird sanctury nowadays.

Impressions of North Brother Island in Second Life (2)

There are also some spots to sit and watch. That’s perfect for taking in the whole atmosphere, for thinking about the dramas that happened here. The buildings could tell a lot of stories, like the one of Mary Mallon, or “Typhoid Mary” (1869-1938). Serene wrote about her in his blogpost.

Impressions of North Brother Island in Second Life (3)

I did not only go into every building, I also walked around the island on the shore side and discovered some more spots to sit and watch the birds. In RL you would see the skyline of NY City very close from the shore and this certainly adds to the oddity of this island. My main source of information about North Brother Island is a German blog about New York history and I’ll add the link here. Even if you don’t understand German, there’re a lot more historical pictures of it. In this post you find more links, one leads to a collection of pictures of North Brother Island taken in 2011.

Impressions of North Brother Island in Second Life (4)

Thank you Serene and Jade for another great place to discover and to learn about. My visit inspired me to restart my own research of New York history.

Landmark to North Brother Island
https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Arcole/23/163/22
Serene Footman’s blogpost about North Brother Island
https://furillen.org/2019/06/29/north-brother-island/
Wikipedia entry about the General Slocum disaster
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PS_General_Slocum
German blogpost with a lot of historic pictures of North Brother Island
http://nygeschichte.blogspot.com/2013/11/north-brother-island.html
collection of pictures of North Brother Island
http://kingstonlounge.blogspot.com/2011/01/north-brother-island-riverside-hospital.html

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