Look, we would never, ever suggest you do anything illegal. Ever. We just rounded up the most beautiful, strange, easily-broken-into abandoned buildings across the state because we want to keep you apprised of the rich cultural history of the illustrious state of New York. So, whether or not you're not brave enough to go out exploring the craziest abandoned hospitals, psychiatric centers, and ghost towns this state has to offer, you can keep yourself informed (and only slightly terrified) by reading this.
Letchworth was originally intended as a kinder variant on the mental asylum, but any place intended to segregate “the epileptic and feeble-minded” from the general population is going to be... um, suspect -- and the practices that went down here make Nurse Ratched look like Mary Poppins. Children suffered from forced medical testing, and there were many allegations of abuse. The buildings shuttered in the mid-’90s, and today, the sprawling grounds are ripe for exploration. In case you need additional nightmare fodder, there’s an attendant cemetery full of unmarked graves.
Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island
Once the summer home and private arsenal (yup) of a Scottish munitions and army supply dealer, Bannerman Castle is now a crumbling ruin of a formerly robust, landmark New York business. Parts of the place unexpectedly exploded in the early 1920s, which seems like something that might happen when you house literally over a ton of shells and gunpowder in a building designed to look like a dreamy version of an old Scottish castle. These days, you can actually take a tour of the island, complete with a live band to serenade you, by boat or by kayaking up the Hudson. The space is even available for wedding rentals.
Buffalo State Hospital
This building was designed by one of America's greatest architects, Henry Hobson Richardson, and although it’s been closed as a hospital since the mid-1970s, you can now wander the grounds totally legally. The hospital is currently being renovated, however, although the process is going slowly. Guided tours of some of the developing areas are offered during the day, and you’re definitely not supposed to explore the hauntingly beautiful unrenovated areas at night by yourself.
Rockland Psychiatric Center
There really is nothing like visiting an old mental hospital to remind you to feel grateful for, you know, not getting lobotomized or whatever. Rockland was once one of the largest mental asylums in New York, but the patients and staff now take up only a tiny portion of the campus, which spans over 600 acres. If you wander through the warrens of crumbling buildings, you’ll find rooms at varying levels of creepiness, from an abandoned bowling alley (3/10 scare points) to mouldering children’s wards (12/10 -- the eyeless stuffed toys are totally going to come to life any second and get stabby, get me out of here, thx).
Halcyon Hall of Bennett College
The centerpiece of a small women’s college which closed in the 1970s, Halcyon Hall was once the pinnacle of Gilded Age refinement, but has been slowly declining into a more Miss Havisham type of appeal for the past 40 years. It might be a bit of a deathtrap to explore inside, but just visiting the exterior is kind of worth it -- if you’re going to go (which of course you shouldn’t), you may want to make it quick, because the building is supposed to be demolished soon.
If you’ve ever wanted to attend a Dirty Dancing-style Catskills resort populated by raccoons instead of a pre-nose job Jennifer Grey, then this is your chance. This abandoned resort is now carpeted in moss and the Olympic-sized swimming pools grow ferns.
Kings Park Psychiatric Center
Kings Park is the abandoned mental hospital you see when you close your eyes and try to picture such a thing -- it’s kind of the platonic ideal of a terrifying insane asylum. Closed in 1996, the whole thing was supposed to have been demolished a few years ago, but only a few buildings have actually been torn down. Is that the work of slow-as-hell government contracting, or forces from beyond the grave? You be the judge. (It’s the former, guys.)
Town of Tahawus
It’s a whole ghost town, like in old Westerns, but in the Adirondacks! Only a handful of the original turn-of-the-century coal miners’ homes remain, but if you wander into the woods, you’re sure to see them/get chased by a ghost miner with a pickaxe.
The Glenwood Power Plant
This gigantic Yonkers power plant has been abandoned for years, and its bleak appearance and reputation have earned it the nickname “The Gates of Hell.” The space is set to be revitalized in the next few years, however, the plan is to turn it into an art center -- so get in while the post-apocalyptic glory-getting is good (except don’t, because illegal, blah blah blah). If you ever want to stagger around pretending you’re a zombie, this is the spot.
The Pines Hotel
This massive Catskills ski resort once offered 400 rooms, an ice-skating rink, an indoor pool, and about a bajillion other amenities. Several of these have now been demolished, but large chunks of the buildings still stand, where you can scope out remains of peeling vintage wallpaper and old-school chandeliers.