Early in my exploring days, (aka the days of forums, text messaging on flip phones and other pre-historic technology, you youngins) I discovered Kings Park Psychiatric Center. The campus from aerial maps was sprawling, including an amazing tower that I immediately needed to see.
At one time, King Park had over 100 buildings. I think when I first started exploring KPPC, I cautiously say there were still 80(ish) buildings that were vacant. Recent demolition has taken some the Children’s buildings, which were collapsing, but beautiful.
The campus is split up into what we call “Park Side” and “State Side.” When there was still an active building on State Side, the campus was patrolled by OMH police. Hence, State Side. Park Side is the older side of campus, which is now technically a state park. If you haven’t guessed it already, that’s where Park Side got it’s named. That side of the campus holds a museum and was patrolled by Park Police. Occasionally you could cause enough chaos to have both OMH and Park Police chasing you, but nowadays it’s only Park Police and local authorities keeping an eye on the sprawling abandoned campus.
My first visit to KPPC had me and a friend camping behind Shanahan’s, a bar on the edge of the campus. We were awoken early one morning by a pissed off rooster, and well, the rest is exploring history. I met tons of explorers that weekend while out on long island crawling through asbestos filled tunnels and sneaking peaks over the edge of building 93. Almost ten years ago it was risky to be seen atop the tower in the middle of the campus, but now we drink beers and laugh at kids trying to break in from above. Time have changed for certain.
Across from 93 and up a hill is the Quad. It’s a huge building with four sections, hence the name, You used to be able to tunnel through the power plant between 93 and the quad, but 3 years ago they tore down the power plant and collapsed in this very convenient tunnel. The quad had been used by the fire department for training, so the paint all has a cool smoke effect from the top to bottom that makes the shots you take in this otherwise empty building interesting.
Also in the quad was an art project, which previously someone had locked off. On the top floor of one ward they took the time to peel off the chipping paint and paint the walls, creating awesome new art over it. A lot of work for artists from NYC, but it was worth it. In more recent years the entire campus has attracted grafitti artists and other types of artist interested in the buildings. Sometimes I think of KPPC as a living art exhibit. It’s always changing, being tagged, being destroyed, and collapsing in on itself in some places. Although it’s no longer exciting for me to shoot, I always have a blast checking out the art and meet the herds of people who seem to be there nowadays.
State Side also has two new medical buildings, or, well, we call them new medical. Buildings 21 and 22 are connected to “the cube” or building 7, by a walkway that we used to dash across. Recently that walkway collapsed in on itself, I guess I should have been more cautious running across it for all those years. These buildings are empty and pretty uninteresting except for the remnants of bomb squad training that left lockers blown apart in a corner of the building. When walking through these buildings it feels like room after room is exactly the same, and if you get lost, good luck getting your bearings without looking out a window. The only saving grace for this buildings is the sweet view from the roof of building 7, from on top of the cube. Once in the cube was a dispatch antenna for the local authorities, (I think?) but after a few too many alarms being set off the town moved the antenna. Also notable: There’s a morgue on the first floor of 7 with most of the trays missing nowadays. I make it a point to hide in the bottom of the cooler and scare anyone entering the building from the adjacent window. I know, I know, I’m at the top of the food chain when it comes to maturity.
The recreational building with a bowling alley and pool used to be across from building 7, right on the boulevard, the road that divides one side of state side from the other, however it was demolished in the latest wave of building tare downs. The recreation building was usually dark with boards on just about every window, and I don’t recall if I ever even took the time to shoot it. The firehouse was also demolished along with the recreational building, and I wasn’t fortunate enough to see it when it was briefly abandoned.
Hidden behind the last building to close was a beautiful building that was falling in on itself. Sneaking through the woods carefully could get you to this building. With not many people braving traffic to this building, it was tag free, and looked like it was from somewhere other than this modern campus.
One of my favorite trips here was with my best friend and college roommate. While poking through one of the now demolished children’s buildings, our other friend advised us not to enter a side room because the floor was unsafe. About 5 minutes later I here a small “eep!” come from this room and see my best friend wedged in between rafters by only her backpack, looking flustered. Thankfully she found her way out of the room safely after that incident and we still made time to go “collapse surfing” afterwards. (Sorry Mom!)
Last April I headed here to see a friend and throw back some beers. It was unseasonably warm, so we headed to the roof of building 93 where we met easily 30 people that day. One of those people ended up being a good friend of mine and we’ve ventured to New Orleans together, and soon will be heading to Europe for some more exploring. The rad thing about KPPC is that it’s become a spot where you can meet people who love the same thing as you and spend your day talking about any and everything. I haven’t taken my camera out to shoot here in a long time, but I still go just for the fun of it,
With so many buildings, it’s hard to write about them all. Rest assured, though, it’s usually worth the trip here, just to see the circus of kids (and adults, sometimes even families) perusing the abandoned buildings. Checkout #KPPC on instagram to see yourself!