The always informative and interesting Bowery Boys NYC History Podcast explores the mystery of Roosevelt Island’s Renwick Ruins Smallpox Hospital.
In the new Bowery Boys podcast, the mystery behind the Renwick Ruin, the stunning, crumbling landmark on Roosevelt Island with a truly disturbing history. With so much transformation on this historic island, how did it manage to survive? (Photo: Jake-toth) https://t.co/upnJmJqK6h pic.twitter.com/uS7RUI2h6g
— The Bowery Boys Podcast (@BoweryBoys) June 3, 2022
According to the The Bowery Boys:
The Renwick Ruin, resembling an ancient castle lost to time, appears along the East River as a crumbling, medieval-like apparition, something not quite believable….
… In 1856 the island added a Smallpox Hospital to its notorious roster, designed by acclaimed architect James Renwick Jr (of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral fame) in a Gothic Revival style that captivates visitors to this day — even if the building is in an advanced state of dilapidation….
… What makes the Renwick Ruin so entrancing? How did this marvelous bit of architecture manage to survive in any form into present day?
PLUS: The grand story of the island — from a hideous execution in 1829 to the modern delights of one of New York City’s most interesting neighborhoods…
Listen to this fascinating history of Roosevelt Island from The Bowery Boys.
Also, as reported June 20,2021:
… Recently released is the new short film Unforgotten: Renwick Ruin by
artist Aaron Asis, Untapped New York’s Artist in Residence. Asis and his team
at Green Ghost Studios were given special access inside the abandoned
structure and the film showcases perspectives of the Renwick ruin that are
rarely seen by the public. We’ll be hosting a premiere of the film in our
upcoming event, Unforgotten: The Renwick Ruin on July 15th, featuring Asis and
Stephen Martin, Founder of Friends of the Ruin and the former Director of
Design & Planning for FDR Four Freedoms Park Conservancy….
New film takes viewers inside the Renwick smallpox hospital ruin on Roosevelt Island. See it first here: https://t.co/k6iDYGzCDA
— Untapped New York (@UntappedNY) June 18, 2021
Stephen Martin, who once worked
as the director of design & planning for
Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, recently began
Friends of the Ruin, a
non profit whose mission is to stabilize the Smallpox Hospital ruin and return
the building, which has been fenced off for over seventy years, to Roosevelt
Island in the form of public park space. The organization envisions a
stabilized ruin, beautifully landscaped and open to the public, free of
charge, year round.
According to Mr. Martin:
The Roosevelt Island Historical Society, the Roosevelt Island Operating
Corporation, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and
Historic Preservation have been wonderfully supportive. Friends of the
Ruin considers them partners in its mission.
As part of an ongoing educational component to the organization’s mission,
Friends of the Ruin has been working with the Williamsburg High School for
Architecture and Design (WHSAD), a Brooklyn blue ribbon public high school
focused on architectural drafting, design principles, and historic
preservation. WHSAD students, under the instruction of historic
preservation firm Walter B. Melvin Architects, have spent the past five
years studying Roosevelt Island, James Renwick, Jr. (architect of the
Smallpox Hospital), and the ruin. After months of design charettes,
critiques, and mood-boarding, students will often envision a renewed ruin
as public housing, a high end retail experience, or a weekend party
Friends of the Ruin welcomes the students’ enthusiasm but hopes the
building could be permanently stabilized and opened to the public as a
wild, landscaped (and safe) gothic ruin. The building (our City’s only
landmark ruin) was once a hospital to fight a devastating epidemic and
also served as a nursing school training New York’s frontline health care
It is the nonprofit’s goal that the Ruin will serve, in the form of public
park space, to memorialize the science, medical advances, and frontline
workers fighting viral and infectious disease, including COVID-19, SARS,
HIV/AIDS and many other diseases. We believe it is hard to imagine a more
fitting site for this than in our country’s first hospital dedicated to
the smallpox epidemic, and on the historically rich Roosevelt Island.
Click to visit website and more info from
Friends Of The Ruin here.
Here’s the March 16, 2021 presentation made by
Friends of the Ruin
Founder Stephen Martin to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board of Directors about proposed Public Health Memorial to be built at a
renovated Smallpox Hospital.
RIOC Board Meeting – March 16, 2021
from Diva Communications on
More info here about
Friends Of The Ruin and
Here’s a close up fly over view at the Renwick Ruins.
And visits from others over the past few years exploring the Renwick Ruins.