Today it is known as Roosevelt Island. In 1828, when New York City purchased this narrow, two-mile-long island in the East River, it was called Blackwells Island. There, over the next hundred years, the city would send its insane, indigent, sick, and criminal. Told through the gripping voices of Blackwells inhabitants, as well as the periods city officials, reformers, and journalists (including the famous Nellie Bly), Stacy Horn has crafted a compelling and chilling narrative. Damnation Island recreates what daily life was like on the island, what politics shaped it, and what constituted charity and therapy in the nineteenth century. Throughout the book, we return to the extraordinary Blackwells missionary Reverend French, champion of the forgotten, as he ministers to these inmates, battles the bureaucratic mazes of the Corrections Department and a corrupt City Hall, testifies at salacious trials, and in his diary wonders about mans inhumanity to man. For history fans, and for anyone interested in the ways we care for the least fortunate among us, Damnation Island is an eye-opening look at a closed and secretive world. With a tale that is exceedingly relevant today, Horn shows us how far weve comeand how much work still remains....
|Title||:||Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, & Criminal in 19th-Century New York|
|Number of Pages||:||284 pages|
|Url Type||:||Home » Damnation » Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, & Criminal in 19th-Century New York|
Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, & Criminal in 19th-Century New York Reviews
Horrifying. A sad reminder of how we treated the mentally ill, elderly, and poor. And really, how they are still treated.
I won a free copy of this book in a on Goodreads.
Roosevelt Island ( NEE Blackwell Island ) was originally purchased in the 19th century to house facilities created to tuck away the insane, the ill, the indigent, and the criminals from the general public. The injustice bestowed on the island's inhabitants is nothing short of cringe-worthy .
Descriptive, horrific yet oddly fascinating. A damn good piece of history.
To my surprise, this is the second of Horn's books that I finished reading. Didn't realize until later that she also authored The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad , another history/true crime book that I previously read.
Though the topics are different between the two books, I think The Restless Sleep is a more engaging read because Horn incorporates herself into the book by interviewing related parties, whereas Damnation Island edges towards a scholarly retelling told thro ...more
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway.
As a New Yorker who has explored some of the ruins that could be found on what is now called Roosevelt Island, I was always interested in the stories of the island. Home to several hospitals as well as a prison in the 19th Century, then Blackwell Island was used as a place to banish the poor. Conditions in the hospitals for the insane were horrid, as documented by Nellie Bly at the time.
Her account and many others are included in this well researched, ...more
Solidly researched and well constructed history of Blackwell’s Island. Horn pulls no punches - this is a nasty slice of American history. While it is extremely dark and unpleasant, it is certainly something 21st century Americans should consider when looking at our current correctional and mental health care systems...
Interesting, sad look into the sad residents of early NY incarceration (criminal and "insane") facilities.
Thanks to Algonquin Books for this free review copy!
OH MY GOODNESS. This book was a total binge read for me - I received it in the mail on Saturday, picked it up to read Sunday night at 7:30 and finished it by 1:30 on Monday afternoon. And then I proceeded to spend WAY too long online looking at any pictures I could find of Blackwell's Island (today Roosevelt Island) and the structures/people/interiors/EVERYTHING. I'm absolutely fascinated with medical history and NYC history, and this book is a ...more
A good source of information if you are doing research about this place. Engaging? No, but I don't think it is supposed to be; it is just a recount of history. I personally didn't enjoy it because I am not interested in the subject, but I do recognize its information and historical value.