There is nothing more thrilling for urban explorers than visiting abandoned buildings. Usually, the best places they travel to are abandoned psychiatric buildings because of the many creepy things they find and their history. When talking about abandoned psychiatric buildings, there is usually a weird and creepy history accompanying them. However, one building you should learn about that does not have a bad or gruesome history is the Kings Park Psychiatric Center in Nissequogue River State Park in a small settlement of Kings Park, New York.
The Early Days of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center
Ever since the psychiatric center was built in 1909, it was the most prominent building within its surrounding community. Even the local town depended on the center to stabilize the economy. As soon as the center was constructed, there was a sudden increase in the residential population because of the center’s employment opportunities.
Back then, building a psychiatric center was not considered a negative implication. Instead, it gave the town a sense of civic pride because it was built to help people from other places who needed psychiatric help. It housed at least 2,697 patients and 454 staff members, exceeding the overall population of the neighboring town of Smithtown at that time in 1900. Fast forward to 1954, and the hospital treated over 10,000 patients, marking it one of the most prominent institutions. However, the growing population only meant bad things were coming for the psychiatric center.
The Closure of the Psychiatric Center
After hitting the 10,000 patient mark, the center’s patient population started to decline, and it was barely operating to its full capacity in 1990. The New York State Department of Mental Health decided to shut down the Kings Park Psychiatric Center. During the closure of the KPPC, the New York State Community Mental Health Reinvestment Act administered that the savings brought about by the institution’s closure be funneled into other community health programs, also known as deinstitutionalization.
A portion of those savings went into creating the Nissequogue River State Park. Ever since the grounds were turned over to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, the entire land became protected from residential and commercial retrofitting. In 2006, the remaining hospital land was included in the state park.
It was one of the most exceptional psychiatric centers in New York during the 1990s. Nowadays, it stands as a symbol of the town’s former success and how they managed to become a part of history. If you want to take a building tour, it is impossible as on-site guards are roaming around the area. However, you can walk, bike, or drive by the site and check out the building’s exterior facade since there is a linking road that the surrounding community uses. However, there are portions open to the public that you can visit by starting at the traffic circle at the far end of Kings Park Boulevard and walking to the river.