What it is: An island in the East River, between the Bronx and Rikers Island, with a murky history. Once the site of Riverside Hospital, which treated smallpox, tuberculosis, and other quarantinable diseases, North Brother Island was also the home of Typhoid Mary, who was confined there for the last two decades of her life until she died in 1938. In the 1950s, a center opened to treat adolescent drug addicts, some of whom were said to be held there against their will. (Also, in 1904, a steamship called the General Slocum burned on North Brother Island, killing over 1,000 people.)
Why you should visit: Now the island is a bird sanctuary, and ruins of the hospital and other buildings remain, with some rooms amazingly pretty intact. (Check out awe-inspiring photos of a visit to the island here.) There’s probably asbestos permeating the air, but the element of danger paired with the creepy abandoned-island vibe should be enough incentive for you to start planning your yolo-ified voyage here — though you’ll probably have to get creative. (See “Accessibility.”)
Accessibility: Welp...it’s sort of impossible. It’s off-limits to the public, and you have to obtain a permit from the city and charter a boat to get there, which can be pricey. Also, there’s no dock. Oh, and you can only visit between November and February (the herons nest during the rest of the year). AKA get yourself psyched for a freezing cold, perilous, and likely illegal trip to the coolest island on NYC!