Over the years, places that once flourished can become abandoned. From factories and businesses to lighthouses and mental institutions, buildings that once bustled and were vital to Long Island's economy now stand empty and have become part of history. Here are the stories of seven abandoned places on Long Island, according to Newsday archives. Some have since been redeveloped, while others remain deserted. Trespassing is not permitted at some locations.
Great Gull Island
This undated image shows the exterior of a World War II-era observation tower on Great Gull Island. The island, east of Plum Island, became a coastal defense fortification in 1896. Fort Michie was built on Great Gull Island in 1900 and served as a World War II harbor defense site. It consisted of two 12-inch and two 10-inch coastal artillery guns on "disappearing carriages" and various batteries, according to the New York State Military Museum. The fort was an active site for the U.S. Army until 1949, according to Manhattan's American Museum of Natural History, which acquired the property that year. The Upper West Side museum prepared Great Gull Island for tern colonization. The island has become the largest colony of common terns in the world and the largest colony of endangered roseate terns in the Western Hemisphere. Although the fort's guns have since been removed, its battery, network of corridors and parapet still stand.
Pilgrim State Hospital
Pilgrim State Hospital, shown in an undated image, was once the largest psychiatric hospital in the world. Overcrowding in New York City and Long Island facilities prompted approval of the Pilgrim State Hospital in 1928, according to a Newsday article in the book "Long Island: Our Story." The institution was built on more than 1,057 acres in Brentwood and opened on Oct. 1, 1931, with 100 patients who were transferred from Central Islip State Hospital. The hospital housed 2,018 patients just nine months later and had more than 13,875 patients at its peak in 1954, according to the New York State Office of Mental Health. The hospital, along with Kings Park Psychiatric Center and Central Islip Psychiatric Center, prided itself on being a self-sufficient community. In 1996, the Kings Park and Central Islip centers closed as the need for large treatment facilities diminished, and their patients were transferred to Pilgrim. Pilgrim State Hospital operates today as Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, although on a much smaller scale with about 380 inpatient beds and four outpatient treatment centers. Some of the buildings have gone unused. But a 450-acre parcel is the proposed site of a new community, the Heartland Town Square project, which would include 9,000 apartments and an entertainment district. Trespassing is not permitted.
Bulova Watchcase Factory
The Bulova Watchcase Factory of Sag Harbor, built in the 1880s, closed more than 20 years ago. During the Great Depression, the factory was sold to Arde Bulova, the company founder's son. The factory began making munitions and timing devices during World War II. While Bulova is still known as a top manufacturer of luxury watches and clocks, the factory produced its last watch case in 1975. Until recently, the factory remained abandoned. The building’s brick shell was preserved while the structure was converted into 63 condominiums dubbed Watchcase Sag Harbor. This image shows the Bulova Watchcase Factory on May 24, 2005, after bricks had fallen, opening a hole on the third floor.
Cedar Point Lighthouse
The Cedar Point Lighthouse, shown in 1930, was built near Sag Harbor in 1868 and guided mariners until 1934, when it was decommissioned and an automatic flasher was installed nearby. The lighthouse was transferred to private owners after World War II. The site was purchased by Suffolk County in the 1960s and became part of Cedar Point County Park. The lighthouse sat defunct until restoration began in 2013, including exterior restoration and the rebuilding of the interior, which was destroyed by fire in the 1970s. The Suffolk County Legislature in June 2014 approved a plan to allow a nonprofit, Lighthouse Inc., to run a bed-and-breakfast inside the lighthouse once renovations are completed.
Kings Park Psychiatric Center
Kings Park Psychiatric Center, pictured in 2007, was once home to more than 9,000 mentally ill patients, according to a Newsday article in the book "Long Island: Our Story." The buildings were shuttered in 1996, and some structures on the property have since been demolished. After years of abandonment, the remaining buildings have become overgrown with vegetation and marred by broken windows and graffiti. Some Town of Smithtown officials sought to transform the former hospital grounds into a park in 2013, but the state denied a land transfer that would be required. Trespassing is not permitted.
Vacant lumber yard in Smithtown
Three dilapidated buildings sit on a vacant lumber yard in the Town of Smithtown and have been abandoned for about 12 years, according to town Councilman Edward Wehrheim. The site, shown in an undated photo, was the focus of a 2011 Suffolk County grand jury probe into whether town officials had persuaded a developer to illegally demolish structures on the site as tax savings. The probe concluded in 2012 with no charges filed, and in July 2014, town board members voted to tear down the buildings, which once housed Nassau Suffolk Lumber and Supply Corp., a law office and a tattoo parlor.
Lawrence Aviation Industries Inc., which closed in 2003, manufactured parts for the aeronautical industry. The 126-acre parcel was declared a federal Superfund site in 2000, after industrial wastes dumped into the ground at the property over decades created a hazardous underground plume that contaminated the surrounding area. The site of the abandoned and contaminated Port Jefferson Station factory could eventually become a commercial park for light industrial uses such as laundromats, banks, printing plants, lumberyards and research and development labs, according to a draft land-use plan prepared by Brookhaven Town officials and local residents.