If there’s one thing that I love, it’s photographing out of the ordinary, off limit or once restricted (or currently restricted) locations. For this photo excursion, I had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the recently partially restored immigrant hospital located in an area of Ellis Island that until a few years ago was off limits to the public. The Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour features a look at several pieces of oversized artwork by artist JR for his Unframed Ellis Island project. The over 90 minute tour covers sections of the once fully operational immigrant hospital on Ellis Island that cared for sick immigrants before they entered NYC. The history behind the hospital is fascinating and JR’s larger than life images of immigrants entering Ellis Island provided a realistic and often eerie portrayal of the hospital. Eerie because the areas that we were allowed to walk through, although were deemed safe, were definitely creepy as all hell. I kept preparing myself for a ghost of some sort to walk past me as I clicked away at the decrepit rooms throughout the hospital. I LOVED IT! Every minute was filled with history, intrigue and of course the most creepy atmosphere that I’ve been allowed to photograph. Apparently, JR hosts his own tours in which he has unrestricted access to the entire hospital to view all of his pieces. If you’re looking for a new photography adventure that’s close to home (home being NYC or close to it) check out this tour before it gets too cold!
I don’t remember our tour guide’s name but he was GREAT. Super knowledgeable about the hospital and enthusiastic about the tour.
The hospital had several mortuary refrigerators in a lecture style room in which doctors and surgeons examined bodies of the deceased.
If you do take the tour, prepare to WALK. This is just one of the hallways that we examined.
JR’s work is hidden away in various rooms and areas of the hospital. We only saw half of them because JR has many pieces located in places that are still off limits to the public.
While on the tour, we ran into one of the workers shuttling a newly restored piece of equipment that was used to help soldiers coming from war with hand injuries regain use of their hands.
You almost forget that this was once a beautiful and vibrant hospital caring for thousands of people. Most of the rooms were left exactly the way they were left years ago.