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See how nature has reclaimed New York City's forgotten quarantine island

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Christopher Payne

A tiny island tucked between Queens and the Bronx holds a vision of what New York City could look like after five decades of human absence. According to Smithsonian, North Brother Island was first inhabited in the late 19th century and for decades after held hospitals with patients being quarantine for diseases like small pox. Some housing and rehabilitation centers later came to the island, but it all eventually shut down due to cost issues associated with ferrying people back and forth. Since then, in the early 1960s, the island has reportedly been more or less untouched, with only curious explorers and city employees headed over there.

Photographer Christopher Payne is one of them, and he spent five years documenting the island on camera, collecting photographs of the island's overgrowth and abandoned buildings for a book that was published earlier this month. Smithsonian has more on Payne and the island, as well as fifteen gorgeous photos from the book.