Inside New Jersey’s Abandoned Mental Asylum



Image: Sylvain Margaine

“Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints…”

At the centre of a sprawling one square mile site is a vast and imposing building. Founded in 1875 and popularly known as Greystone Park, the New Jersey State Hospital for the Insane makes for a striking sight. Built to the Kirkbride Plan, the austere architecture was once alive with the throng of workers and inmates. It was a ‘self-contained city’ with dozens of buildings, including a fire station, post office, police station, a farm, and myriad other clerical and recreational constructions. Now, the corridors echo only with birdsong and the eerie whistle of the wind.


Image: Sylvain Margaine

Thomas Story Kirkbride believed that the ‘building was the cure’ to mental illness and planned his structures accordingly, with staggered wings that allowed in as much sunlight and fresh air as possible and set them within large grounds – idealistic sanctuaries “away from the pollutants and hectic energy of urban centers”.

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