It’s been a few weeks since we went ghost hunting, virtually at least. Today I am taking you to Pilgrim State Hospital. Another abandoned psychiatric hospital, this one located in New York.
Pilgrim State Hospital was originally built in 1931 to alleviate the overcrowding at other hospitals and the original location had dozens of buildings and had almost a campus of 2000 acres. They would have been able to house 12,500 patients. It is still the largest in the world, but no longer is an actively used facility. In fact, it is now in disrepair, decay, and deserted. Many of the buildings have been demolished as of 2003.
Pilgrim State Hospital was built as the answer for the overcrowding at the other six psychiatric hospitals in the New York City area. Originally it was built to hold 12,500 patients, but at its peak population it had over 16,000. That’s bigger than many cities, and these patients all lived in one campus. There were four large treatment groups and each group had six separate buildings.
The campus had a building for chronic patients, a theater, staff homes, bakery, laundry, fire house, power plant and a farm. There was also a ten-acre cemetery that lies behind the water tower. The unclaimed bodies were buried with a simple headstone with the patient number. At times the hospital averaged one death per day.
The treatments included many things that were considered cutting edge at the time, but hopefully are not seen any longer due to their barbarity. Before the 1950’s when the drug, Thorazine was developed the following treatments were used:
- Insulin shock therapy: The patient is injected with large doses of insulin, which causes convulsion and coma. Introduced at Pilgrim in 1936.
- Metrazol shock therapy: Injections of Metrazol (or commercially known as cardiazol) quickly induces powerful seizures.
- Electric shock therapy: Currents of electricity are passed through the brain to induce grand mal seizures, commonly used to treat schizophrenia and mood disorders. Pilgrim State started using this technique in 1940 and has recently been under investigation for forcing this treatment onto patients.
- Pre-frontal lobotomies: This treatment started in 1946 and by 1959 up to 2000 lobotomies were performed here. Most were done in the central medical building #23.
You are welcome to visit the grounds, always make sure that you can investigate and proceed with caution.
As you can see from the image above, this was taken from two individuals who were exploring the property. Is that a smudge, a person’s head, or just a shadow?
And another image, poor quality, of a human shape in the center. It may have been another person, but the image is again poor quality so it’s hard to say. Only one way you will know for sure if it’s haunted, go check it out for yourself.