The best neighborhoods for urban exploring in New York City

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Urban exploring, or wandering through abandoned buildings and boarded-up facilities, is a trend that can inspire the adventurous rebel inside each and every one of us. Adventurers sneak into creaky old hospitals, abandoned homes, and other structures that have long since been left behind by the rest of the modern world. And when it comes to creepy, unsettling, and fascinating places to do some urban exploration, New York City is bursting with potential opportunities.

However, it is crucial to be aware that some people are strongly against urban exploring because they see it as blatant trespassing. To avoid landing yourself in trouble during your vacation, we recommend checking with the local authorities or asking permission from whoever owns the property before entering an abandoned building. That being said, let’s check out some of the top spots in NYC:

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Roosevelt Island, Manhattan

Roosevelt Island, which was previously known as Blackwell’s Island, was the home of a Gothic-style hospital that housed thousands of smallpox patients from the 1850s through the 1870s. In 1876, the Renwick Smallpox Hospital was converted into apartments for the nurses and caregivers, and a larger hospital opened up on North Brother Island. By the 1950s, the building was completely abandoned by all former tenants.

The building today has been designated as an official landmark, and it sits behind a fence near the entrance of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. Rumors and legends speculate that the ghosts of thousands of smallpox patients still roam around the yard to this day.

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Rego Island, Queens

In 1877, the Long Island Railroad constructed a train line that took passengers from the bustling Queens borough to the lovely beaches in the Rockaways. The train was used for decades after its construction, but a fire in 1950 caused the railroad company to create an alternate route. Part of the rail line was incorporated into what is now known as the A train route, but roughly three miles of the original 1877 railway was left untouched.

When it comes to finding this hidden railway, it’s “a little tricky,” according to Atlas Obscura contributor Luke J. Spencer. “A good place to enter a portion of the railroad is by the youth activities park on Fleet Street between Alderton Street and Thornton Place,” Spencer says. With a little luck, visitors are sure to stumble upon the remains of the old railway, where they can walk along the same path that others traveled so many years ago.

North Brother Island, The Bronx

This mysterious island is heavily protected by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and curious explorers must complete an application and have “compelling academic and scientific purposes” in order to set foot in this region. The little island has a rather dark history, and it’s definitely not a destination for everyone.

From 1881 through 1943, the island was home to the Riverside Hospital. Its remote location made it ideal for quarantining patients with diseases such as yellow fever, tuberculosis, and smallpox. It’s said that there is a total of 25 buildings on North Brother Island, ranging from staff dormitories to laboratories to designated areas for different illnesses. In addition, the island is often associated with the 1904 General Slocum disaster, in which a ship caught fire, sank, and caused hundreds of corpses to wash up on the island’s shores for days.

Borough Park, Brooklyn

When Loew’s 46th Street Theater first opened its doors in 1927, it’s said that over 25,000 people tried to squeeze in for a chance to see the marvelous “palace” design of the theater. According to Thrillist writer, Tanner Saunders, the theater had a total of 3,000 seats and was one of the first theaters to have multiple screens in one building. The theater grew into a popular concert hall throughout the next few decades, only to shut its doors in 1973.

Today, the Loew’s 46th Street Theater is supposedly used as a warehouse for a furniture store. Unlike other urban exploration hot spots, this building is one you probably don’t want to try to sneak into. If you’re curious about what it looks like, however, you can check out these eerie photos taken by blogger Will Ellis, who had the permission of the property manager to enter.

Ready to explore?

Whether you climb up to the rooftops of an ancient factory or take a deep dive beneath the streets of New York, you can rely on BNESIM’s virtual SIM card to provide you with reliable service. The free app can allow you to call and text people from anywhere in the world while making it easy for you to manage multiple phone numbers from a single device. No matter where you roam, BNESIM will make sure that you can stay connected to the people you love the most.


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