Photographer Ian Ference had to get special dispensation from the New York City parks department to visit North Brother Island, the site of a forced-quarantine hospital that closed down 50 years ago. The island, right off the coast of the Bronx, used to house people suffering from contagious diseases like tuberculosis and smallpox — including the notorious Typhoid Mary, who was confined to the island’s Riverside Hospital for more than 20 years. (There was also a small leper colony, at least until the leprosy sufferers all walked away and the Board of Health decided their disease wasn’t contagious enough to let them come back.) 

Now North Brother Island is a bird sanctuary, so not many urban spelunkers get to poke around the abandoned hospital and dormitories, but Ference did and the results are pretty spectacular. If you like ruin porn and urban exploration, these photos are totally worth breaking your personal rule against ever clicking Daily Mail links. (I assume you have that personal rule.)

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