Thursday, April 22, 2010

NYC in sickness and in health

Smallpox Hospital - Roosevelt Island, NY

This picture reminds us of the shifting landscapes of health and sickness in New York City. The most recent 'ruin' in this space is St Vincent's which has recently been forced to close. A mid-19th century religious institution, the hospital became a space for memorializing within the city - whether the devastating AIDS epidemic which it found itself struggling to cope with in the 1980s, or its associations with 911 and the search for the lost, or simply nostalgia for previous versions of the Village.

Emily Geminder writes in the NY Observer:
"Among the memorials New York has never built is a memorial commemorating its more than 85,000 AIDS deaths. At a time when efforts to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation were being roundly condemned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the hospital rooms under its tutelage overflowed with gay men, as St. Vincent's emerged as the unlikely ground zero in the AIDS epidemic."

Another surprising material trace of the treatment of past illnesses can be found at Columbia. The University was built on the site of Bloomingdale Insane Asylum.

The only trace of the asylum is Buell Hall - Not a ruin by most people's definitions, but certainly a fragment of a landscape that has now disappeared, and a site of memory in that sense.

Onika and Zoe

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