toronto heights

Canada’s largest city is home to some of the tallest skyscrapers in North America. Besides the instantly recognizable CN Tower, lesser-known edifices like the Bay Adelaide Centre and Commerce Court still crack the 700 foot (210m) mark. Recently, the rooftops of Toronto have been fertile ground for fellow photogs; Toronto has been called the best city for rooftopping in the world. It’s easy to see why: a downtown core full of tall buildings and cranes (engaged in the process of making more tall buildings), the potential for fantastic, brilliantly lit nighttime cityscapes, and a certain degree of luck with roof access doors. It’s a cocktail that goes down smooth every time.

After cracking Millbrook Prison with some of Toronto’s finest explorers, I went in search of a new point of view on the concrete canyons I’d been exploring at ground level for the last week. Joined by Jono and Dresden (names changed for mystery’s sake), we set our sights on the modestly tall CF Tower – a 36 floor monolith of steel and glass right smack in the middle of Toronto on Queen Street East. Past the security desk and into the elevators went the three of us, and a short vertical ride later, we were facing down the last door between us and the sky. Jono turned the handle, the catch drew back unhindered by a lock, and the magic portal was opened.

Three of Toronto’s tallest buildings keep watch over the city; from l-r, Scotia Plaza (902 ft/275m), Bay Adelaide West (715 ft/218m), and First Canadian Place (978 ft/298m). To the right of the downtown core is the CN Tower, dwarfing the skyscrapers at more than 1800 ft (550m) high.

From up here, perspective definitely changes. Aside from the sheer height (for reference, 465.88 ft/142m), turning all the pedestrians and streetcars below into pawns on a child’s play set, there exists up here a strange kind of solitude. Toronto at ground level is a busy, sometimes frenetic environment; people rushing everywhere with something to do, drivers cutting off each other in attempts to make green lights, the sound of streetcars clanking down Queen East, music, everything. However, at this moment, on this rooftop, there were only the three of us, and for all we cared we could be the only people in the city. The only sounds up here were the occasional *whirrrrrr* from the elevator machinery nearby, the muffled, reverberating soundtrack to the city below, and the rush of the wind coming off the lake, intensified by our present altitude. The roof was a fantastic perch, ringed by a small rail system used to carry the equipment needed to lower the window washers on their rounds. This ring of metal, as luck would have it, made an excellent place to anchor tripods.

Downtown Toronto was just starting to empty its buildings of cubicle dwellers, so the three of us decided to slip out among them, saying goodbye before heading off to catch subways and streetcars destined for far-flung parts of the city. Later that evening, Dresden and I headed for the King Edward to meet up with Hilite and pay a visit to not only the long-abandoned 17th floor ballroom, but the summit of the building itself. The King Eddy, which opened in 1903, is one of Toronto’s oldest and most well-heeled hotels. We dressed up for the occasion, my pea coat and D’s leather gloves and classy scarf passing the rich test given to us by the eyes of the front desk concierge as we walked in. We proceeded up the elevator, down a hallway to an out-of-the-way stairwell, and up another flight of stairs until we found an unlocked door to the vaunted 17th floor. We were in.

The King Eddy’s Crystal Ballroom was last used in 1978.

Dresden gets up close and personal with Toronto.

Farther up the magical staircase, another unlocked door led us to the room housing the hotel’s six humming elevator motors. Yet another door, again mysteriously unlocked, let us out into the chilly, cloudless night. From up here, the sleepy city still buzzed, illuminated from all sides by thousands of lights. The view from up here was simply staggering.

Couldn’t resist a little self-portraiture.

Dresden and Hilite make their way back down the magic stairwell.

After paying a visit to the Eddy, we made tracks to a pho restaurant just inside the Kensington Market neighbourhood. Out came big bowls of steaming broth, noodles and meat, and over these tasty midnight munchies we traded war stories, reminisced about long-demolished sites, and talked shop (all of us having some photographic pursuits). Toronto is known as the cradle of organized urban exploration, and the explorers who call this city their home are always knowledgeable about what’s under the surface of their glittering metropolis. Hilite was no exception; calm, well-spoken, and with his finger on the pulse of the city, intent on getting to the bottom (or the top) of whatever urban mission he set himself on. Our conversation was laced with names like Consumers’ Glass, the Royal Constellation, and the legendary Malt. Some of these places would see visits before my departure from Canada, but which to choose? Our bowls now dry of soup, Dresden and I said our goodbyes to our comrade and headed off to the subway again, retreating to the dark reaches off of Bloor Street to make our plans for the next night.

belden – into the rabbit hole, pt. 2

«Second in a two-part series on Belden»

As we peered down the incline, the space below us opened up into the workings of a full-sized underground ore mill, a complex of huge machines used to crush big hunks of ore-bearing rock down to smaller and smaller pieces for transport and further processing. The miners dug out a cavern more than eight stories high in places, housing not only the huge rock crushers themselves, but more workspaces, a few company offices, and a conveyor system which fed the hungry workings of the various machines involved in the milling process. At peak output, an incredible 150-200 tons of ore could be processed in each 8-hour shift. This was Belden’s heart; the place where the huge machines that did the dirty business of milling the ore lived. Our voices bounced off the high walls and huge, silent machines, our breath hanging in the air, visible for seconds at a time after we exhaled before clinging to flat surfaces as shimmery drops of condensation. Years ago, this room would have been deafeningly loud with the sounds of mineral extraction: metal smashing rock, the hum of generators and engines, the shouting of the foremen as the carts crawled up and down the incline. Many of the slowly rusting ladders and stairs didn’t even creak after years in the mountain – a testament to the skill of the men who dug this manmade cave out of the hard granite of western Colorado.

The long steel rods inside the crushers would roll around as they turned, smashing the pieces of siderite, sphalerite, and pyrite (among other other minerals) into bits to be transported elsewhere.

A view looking back up at the incline from the crusher level.

An elevator in the upper level of the crusher room moved people and equipment between the crusher and shop levels. If it were operational, it would take us down to a tunnel leading out to the rail siding in the canyon.

It was almost time for us to head for the exit, as we’d be losing light in the canyon soon. Our exit from Belden took a different route than our entrance, and as we moved through the tunnels to the surface, the mill proved there were still surprises around the corner. A plastic tarp, ostensibly put there by the EPA during their cleanup, blocked off a side tunnel. We investigated, and found that the room held something straight out of a video game: a cavern with electric lime green runoff beneath the makeshift floorboards. Once the room was confirmed to be mutant- and zombie-free, we moved in.

Further back, we found a wooden catwalk which gave claustrophobic access to the top of a large holding tank. It seemed we had stumbled onto one of the EPA’s mine water storage locations, part of their plan to clean up the Eagle Mine site. The idea here is that water in the tanks is to be drained and treated in a newly built water treatment plant near Bolts Lake, a few miles up the river. The unearthly shade of green may be a combination of antifreeze (added to the runoff water to keep it liquid during the frigid winter months) and copper leaching, but regardless of its chemical content, we decided the best course of action would be to continue out of the mountain and away from the neon green liquid. Tripods and cameras were packed and accounted for, and off we went.

Eventually, one of the tunnels showed light at the end, and the four of us opened a rusty, creaky door and broke out of the depths and into the warm Colorado sunshine. Our exit let us out of Battle Mountain at an interesting place: about a third of the way up the canyon wall, right above a long, steep slope strewn with sharp, broken rocks of all sizes. Not the easiest place to descend from, but it definitely made for a great view of the exterior of the subterranean giant we had just slain.

Our descent began, the four of us slowly making our way down the scree to the floor of the canyon below. An old steel cable, perhaps once used to move ore or power around the site, now made a makeshift fixed rope to steady us as we tried to keep our footing on the loose, constantly shifting mass of rocks. Before long, the team was once again on ground level. As the sun continued its arc towards the tops of the peaks hemming us in, we investigated some of the above ground buildings in the complex. A small power substation near Darwin’s Ladder once supplied the mine and mill with power enough to keep the machines inside running and the miles of lights on. It was from here that the fateful switch was thrown, plunging the underground into the darkness when the EPA finally pulled the plug.

These transformers, once filled with toxic PCBs, were emptied ahead of the EPA’s arrival by a Union Pacific Railroad subsidiary. UP owns the now-abandoned Tennessee Pass line which runs past Belden.

Our hike out began soon after, the four of us heading back down the tracks toward Red Cliff. The Tennessee Pass line that our boots now traversed was once the highest railroad mainline in America. Built in the late 1800s by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway to beat the competing Colorado Midland to the mineral riches of the Leadville and Gilman districts, this line was for many years the primary transcontinental route through the Colorado Rockies. Southern Pacific bought the D&RGW in 1988, routing their huge 100-car coal trains up the line, some with as many as ten locomotives shoving them up the steep grades to the top of the pass. Eventually, Union Pacific bought out Southern Pacific, and with UP’s ownership of the Moffat Tunnel and other routes through the Rockies farther north in Wyoming, this legendary route was shut down for good in 1997. Only the section through the Royal Gorge remains open as an excursion line.

hiking out
Digital_me takes point as the team heads for the Red Cliff Bridge, which carries U.S. Highway 24 over the Eagle River. The new water treatment plant, built to clean up water from the mine, is nearby.

We arrived back at the car exhausted, but elated with the accomplishments of the preceding 48 hours. Only time will tell what becomes of Belden; recent work has been centered on stabilization and environmental monitoring. Unlike the town above it, redevelopment is not in the cards for Belden (after all, there’s only so many things one can use a giant, contaminated underground mill for) so for now, only the slow, unyielding forces of decay will continue to work inside Battle Mountain.

«Many thanks go to the Denver Public Library’s Western History Department for providing invaluable information on the history and underground workings of Belden.»

belden – into the rabbit hole, pt. 1

«First in a two-part series on Belden»

We awoke in our hobo hostel room in downtown Gilman, Colorado to a warm autumn morning, the town around us silent except for the chirping of birds and the occasional truck passing on the highway nearby. Our mission today was twofold: reposition our vehicle for an easier pickup, and descend into the canyon below the town in search of access to Belden – the immense underground ore mill deep inside the bowels of Battle Mountain.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.

As the Eagle Mine began to mature, the owners found that the small mill operating on the banks of the Eagle River was simply out of its element. As they sought to increase the capacity of the mill, they quickly found themselves running out of space in the narrow confines of the canyon. The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway’s critical Tennessee Pass route took up a premium amount of this limited space, running on both sides of the canyon at points to make good use of the available real estate. Along with the twin track siding near the mine, various outbuildings and coal/oil/water supplies for the locomotives quickly put a squeeze on the milling operation. To the New Jersey Zinc Company, there was only one thing to do: go underground. Lower parts of the mine that had been exhausted were enlarged into cavernous rooms, some twenty feet high and nearly a hundred feet from end to end. Miles of labyrinthine connecting tunnels were dug to move the incoming ore around the mill levels of the complex. Massive rock crushers were moved into the spaces piece by piece and assembled in their new homes. The mine and mill soon ratcheted up production until it peaked in the late 1950s at nearly 4500 tons of ore every month – some silver and gold but mostly zinc, used primarily in galvanizing steel against corrosion. By some accounts, Belden became the largest underground milling operation in the world by the early 60s.

Belden’s exterior buildings in the early 1910s. A string of ore cars waits at the siding for loading and transport to NJZ’s Cañon City smelter. (Colorado School of Mines/Heritage West)

The mine’s success was soon overshadowed by trouble on the horizon. Increasing labour problems, falling prices for ores as production began to shift overseas, and the use of plastics in more and more things all started to push the operation at Belden towards the edge. Several mine shutdowns occurred in later years, the on-and-off employment prospects slowly driving away the miners who had once called the town above home. By the time 1980 rolled around, only a skeleton crew was left in the mine, keeping the lights on and the mine dry just in case full scale production ever returned. It never did.

When the mine shut down in 1984, the US Environmental Protection Agency took custody of the site. They pledged to work with the mine’s then-owners, the Viacom Corporation (through their Gulf+Western subsidiary) to clean up from more than a century of mining in the area. Their solution was to plug and flood the mine itself using huge bulkheads buried deep inside the former mill level. The groundwater seeping into the mine would slowly be drained and treated in a new processing plant built near Red Cliff. After pulling the last PCB-filled transformer out of the slowly flooding mine, the last team in simply turned out the lights and left. The end had finally come for the Eagle.

Digital_me and I hiked out of Gilman to reposition the car and resupply the group with fine Colorado ales; orogeny and shotgun mario would descend to the canyon via the rickety remains of an ore tramway still somehow attached to the side of the mountain. This was one way of getting ore from the mine to wherever it needed to go, but in its decaying state, the tramway is known as ‘Darwin’s Ladder’ – the difficulty of traversing it tends to weed out those who are unqualified (to put it nicely). Our team was well up to the task, however, and by the time digital_me and myself were hiking up the now-dormant rail line into the canyon, our other half was already having lunch on the banks of the Eagle River.

Darwin’s Ladder as seen from the canyon. It’s best to be careful on the way down.

Tailings from the mine that still dangle precariously over the river near Belden were shored up a few years ago, preventing the rotting, century-old retaining logs from giving way and dumping thousands of tons of waste into the river. The Eagle River in particular was affected by Gilman and its mine; fish kills were reported first in the 1950s, then more often as the years progressed. These days, the river is prime territory for anglers fishing the renewed populations of trout and kayakers looking to shoot the Class IV rapids not far from the mine.

That afternoon, our adventures were elsewhere, and onward we pressed, probing the mountain for entry to the secret world within. Finally, we found ourselves an entrance, a wonderful hole in the side of the mountain that led us into a strange subterranean world. On went our hard hats and headlamps, tripods were unpacked, and with our 02 meter making no scary noises, we took our first steps into the depths of Battle Mountain.

The innards of the mountain are made up of miles upon miles of mazelike tunnels, some of which flood from time to time due to changes in seepage and water infiltration. Thankfully, today, the water had receded, leaving in its wake a floor thick with inches of sticky, bright yellow mine goop. This goop contains all sorts of wonderfulness, mostly garden variety mine waste but laden with heavy metals, solvents, and no doubt many other questionable substances. We were in a very foreign place; cavelike, but with the natural wonder of rock formations replaced by the remnants of a long-abandoned industrial powerhouse. The myriad pipes and conduits that once carried the stuff of life to the miners below the surface – air, power, and water – now rusted away, some still managing to cling to the still-solid rock walls of the tunnels.

As we moved through the tunnels, we found all sorts of remnants from the mine’s operational days. The mine and mill had 24″ gauge tracks laid throughout it for mine carts, and though many left the mine to be turned into scrap, many still remain inside. As we approached the ore storage pocket (a part of the mine where crushed ore was dumped from the trains coming from the mill), we came across a curious looking addition to a derelict train. Several cars in the train had closed tops with holes in them, which made them unsuitable for carrying ore. As luck would have it, we had stumbled upon what was known to the miners as a ‘honey wagon’ – basically a portable toilet. The toilet cars would be attached to the end of a string of ore cars going into the mine, allowing the miners to relieve themselves without having to go all the way out of the mine. This honey wagon ended up near the ore pocket’s 100 foot deep shaft, a giant hopper which ended in a loading room where larger mine trains would carry ore out of the mine and onto the waiting railroad cars. We elected to tread lightly across the chasm.

Orogeny lights up a train of mine carts waiting before the ore pocket in Belden’s upper levels.

Further on, we found a collection of machine shops and work spaces for the mine and mill. Under the surface, it was easy to lose the scale of the size of the complex we were in. Larger corridors led to huge dug-out caverns partitioned off by walls, some reaching up into three floors in height. These rooms were used to do everything from maintaining the miniature locomotives pulling the carts through the mine to keeping the miners’ rock drills sharp. The larger ones were outfitted with heavy lifting equipment in case repairs needed to be effected on one of the huge machines elsewhere in the depths of the mill. So much of the equipment was simply left in place that if it weren’t for the decades of decay that inevitably result from being inside a dark, leaky mountain, it could be as if the lights were turned out yesterday. As for our lighting equipment, there was no such thing as too much. The lack of power meant cave darkness inside Belden – a terrifying prospect if our lights gave out. This meant backups aplenty: headlamps, fluorescent lanterns, the ubiquitous Mag-Lite, compact LED lights, even a few glow sticks and road flares just in case.

This clock records the time that power was cut off to the mill. Interestingly, the calendar mounted on the solid rock wall reads 1970, more than ten years before the final closing of the mine.

This jar of mysterious deep red goo is lit from behind by a blue LED. Our best guess is transmission or hydraulic fluid, though superhero-spawning mutation properties are not out of the question.

Some unknown underground mold has taken over this chair in an upper level workshop. Airflow is still adequate in the mill, though recent work has sealed many of the shafts and adits that previously allowed fresh air (and thus potentially outside agents like mold spores) inside.

This two-story machine shop room (illuminated with the help of Akron on a previous trip) allowed heavy maintenance to be done on large, bulky mine equipment without actually having to remove the equipment from the underground workings.

One tunnel led us to the top of a long slope extending far down into Battle Mountain. The nearby structure and rail junction (complete with an abandoned locomotive) gave clues to this ramp’s purpose: this was the South Incline, a long stretch of tunnel that was critical to the transport of ore within the mill. The shack at the top held a huge winch that was used to move the ore carts up or down to either end of the incline, where they would be hitched to waiting mine locomotives to move them along to their next stop. This incline was no ordinary tunnel, however, as we were about to find out.

The mine carts were shunted around in this small yard at the top of the South Incline for transport to other parts of Belden’s upper levels.

Stay tuned for Part Two, which promises even more underground goodness. In the mean time, check out the photo set right here.

the King’s throne

A merciless rain drenched the Long Island Railroad station at Kings Park, New York as E and myself sipped our corner store tea under an awning. The sun had long since set, and we still had twenty minutes of waiting in the downpour before the next train arrived to take us back to Brooklyn. The day had been long but successful, with marauding patrols dodged and landmark buildings explored. My first attempt at photographing a classic east coast asylum, and E’s first attempt at any urban exploring whatsoever had gone off without a hitch.

Kings Park Psychiatric Center is one of a string of huge mental institutions built on Long Island in the late 1800s along with Pilgrim State Hospital and Central Islip Psychiatric Center, as well as Edgewood State Hospital (built in the early ’40s).  For much of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these institutions held thousands of patients, sent there from the teeming asylums closer to New York City to live and work on ‘farm colonies’ – at first the Long Island asylums were just that.  Patients would tend fields and livestock, build furniture and sew their own clothing.  During the early to mid 19th century, the campus was mostly comprised of small, scattered cottage-style buildings spread out over several hundred acres of land adjoining Smithtown Bay. When the state of New York took over the campus in 1895, it was renamed the Kings County Branch Asylum. The surrounding area, known at the time as Saint Johnland, was renamed as well at the behest of local residents who did not want their town and its railroad station associated with the asylum, giving the area and future township its current name: Kings Park.

The cottages that originally comprised Kings Park. The goliath Building 93 would later be built on this site. (courtesy LIOddities)

It was believed that this simple lifestyle had a curative effect on the patients, though the asylum’s remote location was no doubt also a form of banishment for some. In time, Kings Park eventually grew to be its own self-sustaining city.  It had its own power station, telephone exchange, even its own spur line off of the Long Island Railroad so coal (and initially, patients until buses took over) could be brought in by rail.  By the 1950s, the KPPC campus covered a huge area of northern Suffolk county, with more than 150 buildings dotting the rolling landscape.  Instead of growing outward, the hospital began to build upward, with the iconic 13-story Building 93 reaching skyward in 1939.  Designed by New York’s state architect, William E. Haugaard, Building 93 was for many years the geriatric ward, treating and housing patients older than 55. Along with 93, there were dedicated patient ward buildings, a fully-equipped medical/surgical building, a police and fire station, even a boathouse on the Nissequogue River.

Unfortunately, the same gremlins that plagued the east coast asylums were present at KPPC.  Overcrowding, the very reason that KPPC had been built in the first place, became a chronic problem. By 1931, almost 5800 patients were living at Kings Park – while the facility was only made to hold 3700. The problem was not confined to Kings Park – at the system’s peak in 1950, New York’s asylums held more than 33,000 patients, most in the teeming facilities on Long Island. Stories of patient mistreatment, widespread abuse of electroshock therapy and even unnecessary prefrontal lobotomies abounded, many of them bearing truth.

The development of antipsychotic drugs such as Thorazine in the 1960s was the nail in the coffin for Kings Park as well as the rest of the Long Island asylums. As drugs became more easily available, the asylums of the east coast began a process of ‘deinstitutionalization’ – in some cases transferring patients to facilities that were still open, like Pilgrim State farther down Long Island. Other patients were simply turned out on the streets, freshly inked prescriptions for drugs with names like Chlorpromazine or Haloperidol in hand. By the early 1990s, Kings Park Psychiatric Center (as it was now called) was only a shadow of its former self, with many of its hundreds of buildings already abandoned. Even Building 93 was not immune; it was slowly emptied of patients, its floors closed off one by one until, by 1990, only the first few were still occupied. In the fall of 1996, the state of New York transferred the last of the patients out, and the 111-year-old asylum was closed down and left to decay.

Earlier in the day, E and myself found our way by train from Brooklyn out to Long Island. The clouds in the distance menaced, but despite the weather we were determined to get into some mischief. The walk from the train station proved straightforward, and the two of us ventured up the road and into the massive campus. Most of the former hospital site was turned into the Nissequoge River State Park in 1996, so getting close to the buildings wasn’t difficult. Just over the ridge lay the first big edifice: Building 7, the medical building. E and I went around back to assess entry, but to our dismay, a pickup truck was waiting at the loading dock. Workers would be around, and getting in would be much harder with them nearby. We poked around for a moment, but no sooner had we tried a few doors than the 5-0 showed up.

why hello there!

Fortunately, they were friendly, and we chatted to the officers who approached us about the history surrounding the building we stood in front of. One of the deputies told us: “We see a lot of photographers out here, trying to get into the old buildings.” Funny how that works, I’ve no idea who’d do a thing like that. We, of course, promised to remain outside all the fences, and the cops headed off. We later saw the same two Suffolk County deputies we’d met hanging out on the roof of 7 – no doubt scoping out the KPPC campus from one of the best viewpoints around. As for us, we left the party and continued up the hill. We had business to attend to.

E checks a door at Building 23, the rec centre.

Building 93 looks great from out front. (Courtesy Brian Wasser via Wikipedia)

Building 93 is easily the most imposing of the extant buildings at KP. It towers over the campus with only the smokestack from the former power plant to challenge its rule. Though the building was surrounded by a fence that easily hit 15 feet, we had a mission. We pondered. We called our local contacts. We schemed. Eventually, we found a way through the fences and into the building, all the while keeping an eye out for the police we knew were now aware of our presence. We cracked 93, and the payoff was big.

The murals covering the walls of 93’s occupational therapy room are something of an enigma to this day. Though no one knows exactly who painted the figures on the wall, legend has it that a professional cartoonist was the creator. Percy Crosby, creator of the Skippy series of comics (yes, namesake of the peanut butter as well), was sent to Kings Park in January of 1949. He had been committed after an alleged suicide attempt following his mother’s death. At the recommendation of his uncle-in-law, Arthur Soper, Crosby was declared a paranoid schizophrenic by the state and confined to Kings Park indefinitely. Shady circumstances surrounded his confinement; for instance, the makers of Skippy peanut butter, Rosefield Packing Co., quickly trademarked the ‘Skippy’ name as their own, swearing under oath that no one else held claim to the name – certainly no one like Crosby, who at the time was still waiting for transfer to KPPC at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan after his suicide attempt only five days prior. Though he had been fighting Rosefield for years in court due to their use of the name, the peanut butter producers won out in the end. Crosby had been under audit by the IRS for tax purposes (an audit that some sources claim was politically motivated), and could not afford a legal fight from within the confines of the asylum.

In 1954, Rosefield sold the Skippy brand name to Corn Products Corporation (since renamed Best Foods Inc.) for $7.5 million (nearly $63m today).

Crosby died at Kings Park on 8 December 1964 from a heart attack. By virtue of his service in WWI, he was given a military burial at Pine Lawn Veterans Cemetery rather than in the asylum’s ‘potters field’ – where he would have been given a small grave marker with a number. It’s unknown as to whether he continued to work from the asylum; all incoming and outgoing mail was screened, so anything sent to publishers may have been lost before it ever left Kings Park. What he did leave behind, however, may be the mural covering the walls of the room E and myself found ourselves in. The sound of patients was long gone, their cries and murmurs now replaced by the sound of the rain outside and the occasional ‘shck-CHK’ of my shutter opening and closing.

The rain began to taper off briefly as we made good our escape from 93. As soon as it did, a low mist moved into take its place, giving the asylum an eerie air as we made our way back down Kings Park Boulevard to the train station. It seemed fitting, if slightly cliché. This place may have been a comfort for some, but for many it was no more than a prison, a place to be dreaded. Either way, Kings Park is a place with a certain character; its immensity is matched only by the emotional weight borne by the buildings. In the one hundred and twenty six years since its opening, Kings Park Psych had evolved from a collection of small cottages into a sprawling campus of more than a hundred buildings swarming with thousands of patients. It still remains to be seen what will become of the facility; various developers have made bids for the property (not counting the state park, owned by NY State), but nothing has materialized as of yet. For now, the asylum will continue to decay, visited only by the curious.