Hudson River State Hospital, Part Two: Cheney and Snow
Ok, now for part two (part one, of the Kirkbride, can be seen here). The abandoned hospital campus is something like 160 acres, it’s impossible to see it all in one day, or even two . South of the Kirkbride, there are newer buildings, such as Ryon Hall (1935), the Herman B. Snow Rehab Center (1971), which you’ll see a few of from in the slideshow above, and the massive, ten story Clarence O. Cheney Memorial Building, pictured above, which opened in 1952 (as a side note, on the Historic 51′s timeline page, you can see the dates certain buildings opened as well as read other interesting tidbits like “1957 – Lobotomy / Insulin Therapy – discontinued”). It’s so cold and soulless, you’d think it was the Dick Cheney Memorial Building, but unfortunately, he’s still alive.
Now, as you probably well know, I don’t believe in the paranormal or get into “psychic energy” and such, but this felt like a bad place. As we approached it (where I took the above picture), it just swallows you up. With a courtyard of sorts on the north and south sides, it gives one the impression of being overwhelmed and trapped by it. Going inside was quite disorienting, to say the least, as the symmetrical, precise design of the building makes it very easy to feel lost. None of the artistry, or shall I say, humanity that went into the design of the Kirkbride was to be seen here. This was a place full of boxes to store people in, as you’ll see when you click on the slideshow.
The calendars inside told me that it was abandoned in 2000, so there was a lot of equipment and such still remaining. One room had thousands of X-rays. We found the max security wing, complete with padded cells. It was a cold day, but in this building, I was bone-chillingly cold. We examined most of the floors, saw the industrial-sized kitchen, lots of offices, and even evidence of some people sleeping there recently (on the seventh or eighth floor, of all places). What was really strange, as we got to the top, was opening a door to another part of a wing and hearing and feeling a cold wind blaze down the hallway.
You’ll also notice a few shots of another building in the slideshow, a modern building that looks almost like a high school. It’s the Herman B. Snow Rehab Center. In there, there was a courtyard, a bowling alley, a gym, and a swimming pool.
I can’t emphasize enough how mentally and physically taxing doing something like this is. Aside from the sheer amount of walking and scrambling, one is in a really heightened state of senses, almost to the point where it feels like an altered state of consciousness. Trying not to miss any detail, trying not to get lost, trying to see in minimal light, and most importantly, avoiding physical injury (much more of an issue in the Kirkbride than in Cheney) take a toll. After we left, I went into a rest room at a restaurant, and had some strange brain jolt as I opened up the toilet stall, as I opened up so many similar doors that day where everything looked rotten and dead. I was half expecting to see the toilet cracked with peeling paint and crumbling floor around it. Since my visit, I haven’t gone more than a few hours without thinking of all the things I saw. It looks like something out of Hellraiser or Silent Hill, terrifying, yet at other times beautiful. It’s really an archaeology of sorts, one I’m increasingly fascinated with.