Surrounding the bustling island of Manhattan are countless lesser-known landforms. One of the most unique is North Brother Island. Sitting in the East River between the Bronx and Rikers Island, this unassuming chunk of land once housed a hospital where the city quarantined sick patients.


Now, it's a protected bird sanctuary—but photographer Christopher Payne was lucky enough to be allowed to explore the island with his 4 x 5 view camera to document this decaying slice of history. Going back to 1885 when Riverside Hospital opened up on the island to house smallpox patients, North Brother has been a repository for all kinds of social groups, from World War II veterans to heroin addicts. It was finally closed in the sixties and has been uninhabited ever since, save for the herons that nest on the island each year.

Christopher Payne's new book, North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City, is a collection of stunning large format photographs of the abandoned structures and spaces being slowly reclaimed by nature. Here are a few of Payne's images. [Christopher Payne]


To see more of North Brother Island, you can buy Payne's book here. And don't forget to check out his other amaazing projects on his website.