Creedmoor Psychiatric Center is a psychiatric hospital in Queens Village, Queens, New York, United States that provides inpatient, outpatient and residential services for severely mentally ill patients. The history of the hospital and its campus, which occupies more than 300 acres and includes more than 50 buildings, reflects both the urbanization of the borough of Queens, and a series of changes in psychiatric care.
The hospital’s name derives from the Creeds, a family that previously farmed the site. The local railroad station on a line that ran from Long Island City to Bethpage took the name Creedmoor, apparently from the phrase “Creed’s Moor,” describing the local geography, In the early 1870s, New York State purchased land from the Creeds for use by the National Guard and by the National Rifle Association (NRA) as a firing range. The Creedmoor Rifle Range hosted prestigious international shooting competitions, which became the forerunner of the Palma Trophy competition. In 1892, as a result of declining public interest and mounting noise complaints from the growing neighborhood, the NRA deeded its land back to the state.
Musician Lou Reed and jazz pianist Bud Powell were treated at Creedmoor. Legendary folksinger Woody Guthrie, who had been institutionalized for years while suffering from Huntington’s disease, was transferred to Creedmoor in June 1966 and died there in October 1967.
The hospital had spiraled completely out of control by 1974 when the state ordered an inquiry into an outbreak of crime on the Creedmoor campus. Within 20 months, three rapes were reported, 22 assaults, 52 fires, 130 burglaries, six instances of suicide, a shooting, a riot, and an attempted murder, prompting an investigation into all downstate mental hospitals. As late as 1984, the violent ward of Creedmoor Psychiatric Center was rocked with scandal following the death of a patient, who had been struck in the throat by a staff member while restrained in a straitjacket.
In the late 20th Century, the development of antipsychotic medications and new standards of treatment for the mentally ill accelerated a trend toward deinstitutionalization. A series of dramatic budget cuts and dwindling patient populations led to the closing of farm colonies across the United States, and a marked decline at Creedmoor. The campus continues to operate today, housing only a few hundred patients and providing outpatient services, leaving its turbulent past behind. Many of the buildings have been sold off to new tenants. Others, like Building 25, lie fallow. Many parts of the building are covered in bird guano, the largest pile being several feet high.
The building was an active ward until some time in the 1970s, and retains many mementos from its days as a residence and treatment center for the mentally ill. With peeling paint, dusty furniture, and dark corridors, the floors are typical of a long-abandoned hospital, but upstairs, the effect of time has taken a grotesque turn.
The hospital’s census had declined by the early sixties, however, as the introduction of new medications, along with other factors, led to the deinstitutionalization of many psychiatric patients around the world. By 2006, parts of the Creedmoor campus had been sold and the inpatient census was down to 470. Today Creedmoor is divided into two sections by Union Turnpike, with the state Office of Mental Health’s psychiatric center in the north. The south campus is home to a number of different programs — some run by various state offices, others by independent nonprofits — many of which provide outpatient services to people with substance-abuse, psychiatric and/or developmental-disability issues. Between the years of 1961 and 1966 LSD-25 was tested on a group of schizophrenic children in the hospital’s Children’s Unit.
Much of the complex is shuttered today. There’s a Living Museum, which is dedicated to art created by people with mental illness and also contains past history of this place: And is the first museum of its kind in the U.S. Below are more photos from inside Creedmoor Psychiatric Center buildings:
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Info source/credit : nytimes.com, wikipedia.org, abandonednyc.com, asylumprojects.org