Geography: The Islands: North & South Brother Island

Brother Islands

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, North Brother Island was home to hospitals which housed patients with the worst contagious diseases, most notably tuberculosis, typhoid fever and smallpox. For 26 years, Typhoid Mary was quarantined there. When these diseases were controlled, the island was used to house drug-addicted youth. This program ended in 1950, and the island was abandoned. Today it has evolved into a bird sanctuary with many vine-covered ruins.

On June 15, 1904, the General Slocum steamboat burned, killing over 1,000 mostly women and children. The boat was grounded near North Brother Island. The island was used to collect bodies for transport to the morgue.

Typhoid Mary
(Mary Mallon)

Identifying Slocum Bodies

on North Brother Island

South Brother Island has never been developed, and is privately owned.

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