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Taken with a Canon Rebel xti while exploring Kings Park Psychiatric center.
The Kings Park Psychiatric Center, known by Kings Park locals simply as ‘The Psych Center’, is a former state-run psychiatric hospital located in Kings Park, New York. It operated from 1885 until 1996, when the State of New York closed the facility down, either releasing its few remaining patients or transferring them to the still-operational Pilgrim Psychiatric Center.
The Kings Park Psychiatric Center was established in 1885 by Kings County in nearby Suffolk County, adjoining the “Society of St. Johnland” established by William Augustus Muhlenberg, prior to the merging of Kings County with Queens County, New York County, Richmond County, and the Bronx County, to form the famous New York City. The official name of the hospital in its first ten years was the “Kings County Asylum,” taken from the name of the county that Brooklyn occupied. The hospital was revolutionary at the time in the sense that it was a departure from the asylums of folklore, which were overcrowded places where gross human rights abuses often took place. The asylum, built by Brooklyn to alleviate overcrowding in its own asylums, was a “Farm Colony” asylum, where patients worked in a variety of farm-related activities, such as feeding livestock and growing food, as this was considered to be a form of therapy for the mentally ill at the time.
Eventually, overcrowding became a problem in the Kings County Asylum, the very thing that it was trying to relieve. New York State responded to the problem in 1895, when control of the asylum passed into state hands, and it was subsequently renamed the Kings Park State Hospital. The surrounding community, which had previously been known as “Indian Head,” adopted the name “Kings Park,” which it is still known as today. The state eventually built the hospital up into a self-sufficient community that not only grew its own food, but also generated its own heat and electricity, had its own Long Island Rail Road spur, and housed its staff on-site.
As patient populations grew throughout the early part of the 20th century, the hospital itself continued to grow, and by the late 1930s the state began to build upward instead of outward. During this time period, the famous 13-story Building 93 was built. Designed by state architect William E. Haugaard and funded with Works Progress Administration money, the building, often dubbed “the most famous asylum building on Long Island,” was completed in 1939 and would be used as an infirmary for the facility’s geriatric patients, as well as for patients with chronic physical ailments.
Post-World War II, Kings Park and the other Long Island asylums would see their patient populations soar. In 1954, the patient census at Kings Park topped 9,303, but would begin a steady decline afterwards. By the time Kings Park reached its peak patient population, the old “rest and relaxation” philosophy s
Also by Kristina Gale
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