- Since we live in this world, we have to do our best for this world. Aung San Suu Kyi
Visit the New York City Farm Colony
Dead children and the mentally ill in Staten Island's Greenbelt.
Built in 1898 as a self-preserving housing community for the impoverished or otherwise socially outcast, its beginnings were utopic in essence; 2,000 residents would produce over 3,000 vegetables, more than enough to sustain themselves. Due to the advent of Social Security and drugs like Thorazine in the 1950s, however, the community was stripped of most of its able-bodied workers and essentially became a geriatric center. And so, like many other farm colonies, the colony could no longer sustain itself and was sealed and abandoned in 1975. But this only marked the beginning of a far more sinister period of its existence.
The ’70s saw the disappearance of many local children; one minute they’d be walking with their parents, the next they’d be gone, only to be discovered days later in shallow graves on Farm Colony property. Past patients were often spotted haunting the grounds, walking the quickly decaying tunnels and hallways under the buildings they once worked to maintain. And teenagers, too, wanted their fair share of the decaying hulks; layers upon layers of graffiti coat the walls, beer cans litter the paths, and paintball is a common recent pastime in the area.
One of few abandonments in New York City that are not only accessible, but genuinely haunted, and known extensively by what seems to be any- and everyone who grew up on Staten Island, the Farm Colony is an excellent place to relive dead history’s insanity, go on an extremely paranoid walk, or find a body or two.
In January 2016, the New York City Economic Development Corporation sold 45 acres to a developer, who plans to build condos that will open in 2017. The redevelopment plan includes “arrested ruins,” described as “stabilized landmarked buildings,” as one public amenity.