The Most Captivating Abandoned Places to Explore in NYC
Perfect for eerie pre-Halloween adventures, grab your comfy walking shoes (and maybe some sage).
Across the five boroughs, hidden among all that’s new, bright, and shiny in NYC are remnants of the city's storied past. While fresh architectural structures and contemporary glass buildings are constantly popping up around town, there’s also no shortage of crumbling—and very cool—spots around to remind us of the city’s landscape before everything turned into another uninspired corporate branch of a bank or retail outlet.
Perfect for eerie pre-Halloween adventures, this fall, grab your comfy walking shoes (and maybe some sage) and explore the most captivating abandoned places in NYC.
Neponsit Beach Hospital
Jacob Riis Park, Rockaway Beach
Located directly behind what’s historically been the most popular LGBTQIA-friendly beach in NYC, Jacob Riis Park Beach, sits the Neponsit Hospital. Opened in 1915, the hospital was first intended for tuberculosis treatment of children and then World War II veterans, and was especially a big draw in thanks to its fresh sea air and sundecks. Following the hospital’s closure in 1955, six years later the grounds were reopened as a nursing home facility, which ultimately closed in 1998 due to controversial accusations of improper patient treatment. Now, the crumbling facility stands as an disheveled backdrop and well-known meeting point for sunbathers. Unfortunately, there’s little chance of exploring the grounds with a security guard patrolling around, so gazing from nearby sandy waters will have to do.
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Fort Totten Park, Queens
Once an impressive Civil War fortress, Fort Totten stands (mostly untouched) as a hauntingly beautiful relic. Built in 1862, the fort’s original purpose was to defend the New York Harbor from enemies approaching via the East River and then for the subsequent century, the fort was used in different capacities by the US Army. After being largely decommissioned in the 70s, the ruins now stands as a centerpiece for the 60-acre Fort Totten Park. Head over for a day in the park and witness some undeniably gorgeous views. In-person tours and information packets are available at the visitors center and with the park rangers.
Loew’s 46th Street Theater
Borough Park, Brooklyn
When this opulent theater opened for business in 1927, it’s said that more than 25,000 people showed up to the 3,000-seat theater for the chance to experience the incredible design of a New York City movie palace. With the rise of multi-screen movie theaters, the theater eventually evolved into a concert hall, hosting the likes of Jefferson Airplane, before it shuttered in 1973 and was converted, as it remains today, into a furniture store’s warehouse. And while it’s not the sort of abandoned place you can explore today, photos from the inside show that there’s definitely maybe some Phantom of the Opera vibes going down in there.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
Constructed for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair (the largest ever hosted in the United States) by architect Philip Johnson, for decades, the grand structures of The New York State Pavilion have stood vacant. While the rest of the fair has slowly been demolished, the three concrete saucer-shaped observation towers and open-air arena—nicknamed “The Tent of Tomorrow”—have remained untouched. Plans are now in the works to renovate the site into a sustainable community hub (think eco-conscious suspended greenery and playgrounds), but before that, head over to glimpse this golden era of New York architecture and technology. For a complete historical rundown, tickets for a self guided audio tour are available online.
Originally, the Brooklyn Army Terminal was used to house military supplies, and during Prohibition, it was full of booze confiscated from bootleggers. After being abandoned in the ‘60s, the terminal has undergone a revitalization treatment over the past few years, filling up with local small businesses and merchants like chocolatier Jacques Torres. Several of the terminal’s impressive structures are still abandoned, however, and are even available for walking tours.
Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital
Brooklyn Navy Yard
In what feels like a scene from Jurassic Park, parts of Brooklyn Navy Yard feel like they too were abandoned after scientists resurrected dinosaurs and had to flee. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but with the impending revitalization as a Steiner Studios film production site—projected to be completed sometime this decade—(hopefully sans dinosaurs) now’s the chance to explore the 19th-century Navy hospital, and every overgrown and dilapidated nook and cranny, that’s been mostly abandoned for over 50 years.
Staten Island Boat Graveyard
There are plenty of abandoned buildings around the city, but to find an armada of abandoned ships you’ll have to head out to Staten Island. Located close to Fresh Kills Landfill—which is currently being renovated into Freshkills Park and set to be complete in 2036—getting around the area requires some sturdy shoes and the emotional stability to explore an area that’s ripe with post-apocalyptic visuals. Even better, your journey will likely include a trip on a ship, the Staten Island Ferry, so ahoy, matey!
From a bird’s-eye view, the multi-tiered fort known as the Battery Weed—which previously stood guard against naval attacks—looks reminiscent of some ancient Roman gladiator arena. But visitors to the island who have experienced supernatural phenomena—like the woman who claimed she was transported into the body of a wartime nurse and back again—will quickly let you know it was, in fact, a military installation. In-person tours are available now as well, just stop by the park rangers station.
Old City Hall Station
When NYC’s subway system first opened in 1904, the City Hall stop was widely considered as the crème de la crème of stations. Designed with tiled arches and ornate skylights by engineer Rafael Guastavino, it was one of 28 existing stops that ran from City Hall to 145th Street. By 1945, updated subway cars could no longer fit on the rails, so it was ultimately shut down and a newer City Hall station for the R and W lines currently exists. Luckily for us, the former station is not completely lost. Ride through it in an original train car with a ticket from the New York Transit Museum to experience all of its vacated glory.