Friday, January 15, 2010

Spookiest. Run. Ever.

So what did Tessa and I do on our hot Friday night in NYC? Well... we went for our belated tempo run. We had to do 7 miles which was exactly the distance to and from Roosevelt Island including a loop of the island. It was perfect... I have exactly one week left in my sabbatical in Manhattan before I return to my boyfriend and all of my stuff in Ohio... and I have never been to that island before despite the lure of a nice running path and a super cool tram to Manhattan.

We ran past the super cool lighthouse on the northern tip. And then back down to the southern tip... where the path stops and doesn't go to the very edge because of a metal fence. That fence had a gated door that was open tonight. And the allure of a brightly-lit super spooky abandoned insane asylum on the other side. Now under renovation and always lit at night, it actually goes by the name of the Renwick Ruins or the Smallpox Hospital. Tessa said she had never gone to see it because its too scary. I was pretty freaked out too but thought we should at least walk up and get a closer peek. So we did... not too close but just close enough to be spooked about the asylum ghosts that may be haunting at dark on a Friday night. But we survived... and then we had to suffer the achy run back.

Here's some more about Roosevelt Island's Renwick Ruins from a favorite podcast of mine about NYC history, the Bowery Boys... so interesting:

The almost fairytale Gothic structure was designed by James Renwick -- most notable for St Patrick's Cathedral, Grace Church, and the Smithsonian Institute in D.C. -- as the location of a hospital for smallpox patients. It was built in 1856 using labor from the neighboring lunatic asylum.

Roosevelt's relative isolation made it an ideal spot for a smallpox hospital, and the rooms were soon filled with hundreds of patients, many of them poor immigrants too distrusting of our country's immunization practices, or Union soldiers shipped here to recover from the illness. Within twenty years, the New York Board of Health took over the building and made into a nurses residences and school maintained by City Hospital. That too was then abandoned when City Hospital was transferred off of Roosevelt to Queens.

Luckily the deteriorating structure was saved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in the 60s and has only been preserved to the extent that its structure is maintained. It remains beautifully spooky to this day and a testament to the notion that not every inch of New York real estate need be functional.

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