At various times, New York City’s Insane Asylums included the asylums on Blackwell’s, Hart, Randall’s, and Ward’s Islands; and Central Islip. The Asylum for the Insane on Ward’s Island with branches on Ward’s and Randall’s Islands, were for Men. The Lunatic Asylum of Blackwell’s Island with branches on Blackwell’s and Hart Islands were for Women. On February 28, 1896, the New York City Asylum became Manhattan State Hospital. After 1896, it served the counties of New York and Richmond. This page is a work in progress.
1839 New York City Lunatic Asylum.
1887 Ten Days In A Madhouse by Nellie Bly.
1887 State of New York, State Board of Charities, In the Matter of the Investigation of the New York City Asylum for the Insane, Report, August 12, 1887.
1916 Manhattan State Hospital.
Ward’s Island, now Wards Island.
Blackwell’s Island, Welfare Island, now Roosevelt Island.
Central Islip, New York.
New York City Map.
I always wondered where the patients of the New York City Asylums were buried. I now believe that they were buried on Hart Island. Please click to view THE HART ISLAND PROJECT.
VARIOUS ARTICLES ABOUT MANHATTAN STATE HOSPITAL:
“Kings county and New York county provide for their insane under special statutes. The former county provides for 800 or 1000 insane and the latter for over 1,700. On Ward’s island is situated the State Emigrant Insane Asylum which provides for the insane emigrants for the term of five years from the time of their landing in this country. This asylum furnishes accommodations for about 200 patients. The annual expense per patient in this institution is $150. The per capita cost of building $1,138 and the total annual cost, $22,500. There are upward of 500 patients in private asylums so that the insane population of New York state is probably not far from 7,000 or 8,000 at the present time. . .
The annual expense per patient in the two New York county institutions is in the New York City Asylum for the insane $92.89, and for the New York Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s island $73.84. The annual expense per patient in the Kings County Lunatic Asylum, situated at Flatbush, L. I., is $120. The total annual cost for these three county institutions for the insane is as follows: New York City Asylum for the insane, Ward’s island, $53,504 ; New York Lunatic Asylum, Blackwell’s island, $89,420 ; Kings County Lunatic Asylum, Flatbush, $92,400. . .”
SOURCE: Proceedings of the Conference Of Charities, Held In Connection With The General Meeting of the American Social Science Association, Detroit, May 1875, Tolman & White Printers, Boston, Mass., October 1875, Page 56.
Hart’s Island – Superintendents. (First opened for 50 patients, January 23, 1877.) Dr. Armand Duploo 1877-1878; Dr. Andrew Egan 1883-1891; Dr. T. M. Franklin 1878-1879; Dr. George A. Smith 1892-1893; Dr. James R. Healy 1880-1882.
Ward’s Island – Department For Men. W. A Macy, M. D 1886-1897; Geo. F. M. Bond, M. D., acting med. supt 1890; Percy Bryant, M. D. 1897-1900.
Dr. Alexander Trautman, superintendent of the State Emigrant Hospital 1880-1881. Richard M. Lush, warden-in-charge 1872-1873. Dr. Alexander E. MacDonald 1874-1894 (Became general superintendent in 1894, so continuing until the departments for men and women were separated in 1900, when he became superintendent of the men’s division, so continuing until his resignation in 1903.) Dr. E. C. Dent 1904-1906; Dr. Wm. Mabon, supt. and med. director 1906.
Blackwell’s Island – Department For Women. Moses H. Ranney, M. D. 1857-1864; Ralph L. Parsons, M. D. 1865-1876; W. W. Strew, M. D 1876-1879; T. M. Franklin, M. D. 1880-1886; E. C. Dent, M. D. 1887-1895. (Institution abandoned in 1895.)
Ward’s Island—Women’s Department. Dr. E. C. Dent 1896-1906. (In 1906 the departments for men and women were consolidated and Dr. William Mabon became superintendent and medical director.)
Central Islip. Dr. H. C. Evarts, physician-in-charge 1889-1895; Dr. George A. Smith, superintendent 1895.
NEW YORK CITY ASYLUM FOR THE INSANE Medical Officers. Dr. J. N. DeHart 1875; Dr. Wickes Washburn 1875; Dr. W. V. Day 1875; Dr. John A. Arnold 1876; Dr. J. S. Christison 1876 …. ”
SOURCE: 1916 Manhattan State Hospital.
“The most serious fire in the history of the State hospital system occurred at the Manhattan State Hospital on Sunday morning, February 18, 1923. The fire, which started in an attic above ward 43 on the third floor of the right wing of the main building of the men’s division of the hospital, was discovered by an attendant at 5.15 A. M. An alarm was immediately sounded and a stream of water from the standpipe in the ward was quickly applied to the flames. In spite of the most strenuous efforts of the attendants and the fire department of the hospital assisted by the New York City firemen, the fire spread rapidly and destroyed the entire roof and third story of the right wing of the building before it could be checked. Heroic efforts to save all patients in the burning section of the building were made, but owing to the dense volume of smoke and the falling of a water tank, the work of rescue was rendered extremely difficult. Twenty-two patients and three attendants lost their lives in the flames. Two patients later died from exposure. As we go to press the cause of the fire is being investigated.”
SOURCE: The State Hospital Quarterly, Volume VIII, November 1922, No. 1, New York State Hospital Commission, Albany, New York, Publication Office, Utica State Hospital, Utica, N.Y., State Hospital Press, Page 318.
“On February 28, 1896, by act of the Legislature, the New York City asylums for the insane were transferred to state care, under the name of the Manhattan State Hospitals, with three divisions, namely: Manhattan State Hospital East (male department), Manhattan State Hospital West (female department), on Ward’s Island; and Manhattan State Hospital at Central Islip for both sexes. At that date there were 30 buildings at Central Islip. In 1912, not including a group of four in process of construction, there are 118.”
I have created a page for each state hospital and custodial institution cemetery that I know of in the hope that some group: historical societies, former patients, concerned citizens, may be interested in forming their own cemetery restoration, beautification group in order to memorialize and honor the people buried in anonymous, unmarked graves. Of course, we need the names of these people to be released in order to memorialize them properly.
What you would need to do first is to find the forgotten cemetery, take photographs (which I would be more than happy to post), and organize your own group. You can also leave comments on this page in order to get more people involved. This isn’t something that can be accomplished in a few weeks, this will take dedication, an ongoing commitment, and lots of time.
1. CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO They’re Buried Where? by Seth Voorhees
2. Cemetery Information at the NYS Office of Mental Health
3. New York State Hospitals, Custodial Institutions & Cemetery Projects.
4. New York State Senate Bill S840A-2015
5. HIPAA UPDATE March 2013!