The Kings Park Psychiatric Center or “The Pysch Center” is a landmark on Long Island and beyond. (above photo by Newsday.com) Nestled on the North Shore in Kings Park, this massive, once self-sustaining, community not only created the present day town but helped maintain the local economy for the entirety of its operating years. Now all that’s left are massive asbestos filled buildings, a complex tunnel system throughout the town, and much to be explored.
This asylum has had its own fair share of controversy and legends, which adds to its rich complex history. It’s easy to understand why KPPC appeals to many thrill seekers and earned its mark as a popular abandoned destination. Although currently New York State owned and patrolled, the remaining buildings draw visitors from all over the Northeast and the country.
The Kings Park Psychiatric Center was originally known as the Kings County Asylum. It was created in 1885 by Kings County (Brooklyn) to help with the overcrowding in its own asylums. This isolated area on the north shore of Long Island with picturesque views of the Long Island Sound was a perfect spot for a rehabilitation hospital for those with mental illness. KPPC was designed as a “farm colony” which would allow patients to participate in all types of “farming” activities that were seen as a form of treatment.
KPPC was revolutionary in the way that it allowed these once confined mental hospital patients the ability to live in and create a self-sustaining community. There was a complex road system and rehab-farms, but also over 100 other buildings that included a recreational center, a restaurant, and even a fire department that was fully devoted to the patient’s and staff of The Pysch Center. Most of those who lived near the asylum were employed by it and it allowed for the town of Kings Park to be created and ultimately thrive. Yes, the town of Kings Park was created after the hospital was founded, and took its name from the hospital while the hospital was still in operation.
Kings Park Psychiatric Center was an operating facility for 111 years. With new drug discoveries and new treatments becoming available, the need for asylums started to dwindle and lead to a lower patient population. Coupled with the accounts of abuse and other controversies, Kings Park and other mental facilities were forced to close their doors.
The town of Kings Park is riddled with reminders of the once operating asylum. Between the Potter’s Fields (mass burial grounds), the abandoned buildings, and most people in the town’s relatives who once worked at the hospital, KPPC’s history refuses to die.
The idea of a coastal rehabilitation retreat was short lived with the development of more risky treatments, like frontal lobotomies and electro-shock therapy. There are other controversial treatments and experiments that were done on the patients at the facility that went undocumented. Many were said to have taken place in the wooded areas of the property so that they could go under the state’s radar. Overall Kings Park began to have a reputation that was not the best for its patients and their treatment.
The population of patients grew and grew and the definition of what a mental ill patient was became blurred. It is thought that many of those who were admitted to KPPC may not have had a severe mental illness but were still subjected to the controversial treatments and abuse by doctors.
The theories and stories about the treatments and abuse are plentiful and I believe may of had a larger impact of the closing of the facility than is documented.
Kings Park Psychiatric Center can pretty much be found on any “Long Island’s Most Haunted Places” list. I personally have experienced a display of paranormal activity on the property. That’s a whole other story so feel free to message me here or on Instagram if you are interested in that! Regardless, many have similar sentiments and ghost stories from explorations at KPPC.
When KPPC finally closed all of its doors in 1991 (which spread to 1996), they seeming up and left. Inside the buildings today you can find computers, patient records, desks, even an x-ray machine and still operating dentists chairs. It really is like a time capsule that has been preserved, for the most part. There are even patient paintings in some buildings. It’s both creepy and mind-blowing to see the remaining buildings and what still exists and is frozen in time from its past. There’s many anonymous websites that capture pictures from the inside of the buildings, because it is illegal to trespass many do not openly post pictures.
While those looking to explore the past frequent the buildings and the grounds, so did those looking for copper to sell. A lot of the buildings have been stripped by those looking for a quick pay out and made KPPC dangerous to explore for a time period. There is also an abundance of graffiti on many buildings as it became a local hangout for many.
There have been several development deals that have fallen through on the property. The land itself is an incredible location, as there are waterfront properties and water views from many spots on the grounds. Any real estate developer would be lucky to land a deal. There were requirements for the purchase of the property; 1. the developer must pay for proper asbestos removal and building destruction (which is a major expense) and 2. for every acre developed, a few acres (I can’t remember that exact amount from when I learned about this is 5th grade!) had to remain undeveloped to preserve the land. This proved to be too much for all those who bid and the land remains unsold and undeveloped.
In 2000, over 300 acres of former KPPC property were handed over to become the Nissequogue River State Park. There are several abandoned building on this water front property. Although you cannot enter them, you can walk the property and explore around the old hospital grounds. You can even find a picture that I painted on a giant piece of wood that is used to cover up an old glass window in 7th grade. If you haven’t figured it out, I grew up in Kings Park.
In 2006, buildings began to be demolished on the old hospital grounds. Although many of the fan favorites, building 93 and building 7, still stand tall, many buildings have since fallen in controlled explosions and removals. As mentioned, entering the buildings are illegal and the property is patrolled by the New York State Park Police. But still there are many legal ways to see the property. There are some roads that are open to the public that allow you to drive right through the abandoned property, but they do close at sunset. A hike and bike path was created throughout the property which can be accessed and gets extremely close to some of the old buildings. You can park and walk this path that takes you through the property.
The remaining buildings are a reminder of the town’s incredible past and all of those who were impacted by the Kings Park Psychiatric Center.