Sunday, January 12, 2014

Greenpoint Hospital

Greenpoint Hospital Main Building
Greenpoint Hospital Main Building
Greenpoint Hospital campus birds eye view
Greenpoint Hospital Bird's Eye View (Google Satellite) 
Greenpoint Hospital in East Williamsburg sits near the intersection of three neighborhoods, Greenpoint, Williamsburg and East Williamsburg (Bushwick) and was used as a medical facility for nearly 70 years. Some notable Brooklyn figures passed through the hospital before it was replaced by Woodhall Hospital in the early eighties. Once the hospital closed it was converted into a homeless shelter to the dismay of the community and neighborhood groups had to battle city hall to have a say in the future of the hospital campus. Today much of the hospital has been renovated and repurposed; however, the old nurses quarter’s remains empty and a point of contention between neighborhood groups and the city. The story of Greenppoint Hospital is one of a beautiful building and neighborhood institution, an outdated facility meeting the cities budget chopping block, urban decay, corruption and revitalization.

Built in 1914, Greenpoint Hospital served the North Brooklyn community until 1982.[1] Constructed of brick and limestone, the eclectic main building bears elements of Romanesque Revival, Italianate and Neo-Classical architectural styles.

Some notable visitors to Greenpoint Hospital included officer Frank Serpico, Dr. Clarke Smith and neighborhood activist Margaret Carnegie. When Frank Serpico was shot in the face during a drug bust on Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg on February 3rd 1971 he was treated at Greenpoint Hospital.[2] Frank Serpico was the N.Y.P.D. wistle blower played by Al Pacino in the 1973 film “Serpico”. Dr. Clarke Smith who became director of emergency services at the Hospital was a leading figure in drafting “a Patient’s Bill of Rights” which became a model for what was adopted nationwide.[3] Margaret Carnegie was involved with the Congress of Neighborhood Women, the Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corp, the Council for the Ageing and the Williamsburg Greenpoint Independent Democrats. Carnegie worked to improve conditions for seniors and is credited with bringing ‘Grandparents Day’ to New York.[4]

Toward the end of its tenure, Greenpoint Hospital had a lot of problems with the quality of medical care it provided to patients. Shortly after receiving a $2.5 million renovated in the early sixties the hospital had to rely on Mount Sini Hospital to fill staff shortages. Prior to the agreement with Mount Sini the 252 bed hospital was operating at approximately forty percent capacity and plans had been made to convert the hospital into a nursing care facility.[5] A state health department study completed in 1967 found that unscreened windows allowing pigeon fecal matter into the building were ventilating the operating rooms, there were elevators and stair wells that opened directly into the operating room suite and the hospital did not have adequate sterile storage space. These shortcomings, as well as overcrowding and disrepair led to an emergency renovation in the late 60s. The renovations and support from Mount Sini were not enough to keep to hospital from becoming obsolete and eventually Greenpoint Hospital was replaced by Woodhall Hospital in Bushwick.

Greenpoint Hospital former outpatient building now Greenpoint Renaissance Center
Greenpoint Hospital Out Patient Building - Greenpoint Renaissance Center
The majority of news paper articles related to the hospital are about the struggle between neighborhood groups and city hall in determining the fate of the old hospital campus. Since the closure of the hospital the Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation (G.R.E.C.) has been at the forefront of the battle with city hall to determine the land use for the site. The group’s vision for the hospital has included the diversification and reduction of the homeless population housed within the hospital grounds, conversion of a portion of the property into affordable housing, senior citizen housing, a group medical practice and a neighborhood cultural center. Much of GREC’s vision for the hospital grounds has become a reality. The homeless population has been reduced, affordable senior housing has been created and a community center, “Greenpoint Renaissance Center” run by the community non-profit Saint Nick’s Alliance that brings home health care, business development services and cultural events like “Then She Fell” to the community are now included on the old hospital site. The last hospital building to remain unused is the old nurses quarters.

Abandoned building former nurses quarters building
Nurse's Quarters
Chained rusted doors to abandoned nurses quarters building
Entrance to Nurse's Quarters
Interior shot of abandoned nurse's quarters showing pealing paint, broken windows and square columns with Neo-Classical details.
Interior of Abandoned Nurse's Quarters
(Photo: Courtesy of Julia Wertz
In 2012, the developer (the Great American Construction Corporation) who won the contract to convert the Nurses Quarters of Greenpoint Hospital into affordable housing backed out of the project when its senior executive was indicted on bribery charges on an unrelated project. Since the developer who won the original bid to renovate the Nurse's Quarters building backed out, the process of rebidding the project started over and the building remains abandoned with little accomplished since the project was halted.[7]

Greenpoint Hospital buildings with hospital smoke stack in background
Greenpoint Hospital (Corner of Jackson Street and Kingsland Avenue)


  1. “Creepy Old Abandoned Greenpoint Hospital” Gothomist. Online.
  2. Kilgannon, Corey “Serpico on Serpico” New York Times. Online. 22 January 2010
  3. “Dr. Clarke Smith was a famous physician” Amsterdam News. December 2, 1984
  4. "Margaret Carnegie" Neighborhood Women. Online.
  5. Connors, Gerald “Institution Will Restore Full Services” World Telegram and Sun. 22 July 1961
  6. Tolchin, Martin “State Finds Wide Contamination At a City Hospital in Brooklyn” New York Times. 27 December 1967
  7. Furfaro, Danielle “Greenpoint Hospital redevelopment plan flatlines” The Brooklyn Paper. 3 October 2012


  1. Such rich history and beautiful architecture in Brooklyn, lost to neglect and apathy. I was born in Greenpoint Hospital in 1962. Another hospital turned homeless shelter is Cumberland Hospital in Ft. Greene where my mother was born in 1933. Now we are losing beautiful churches and their landscapes to apartment buildings which no one can afford unless you are very poor or very rich.

    1. Hi Felicia,
      Thank you for your comment. It's true that we are losing a lot of buildings. Hopefully, city officials will give more support to protect our architectural heritage before it's too late for the buildings that don't currently have landmark status.

  2. The last place I saw my mother alive was at this hospitals windows as she waved to my two brothers and myself, along with dad on the pavement below. An etched memory. Please save it.

    1. Hi Nona, Sorry I missed this comment. Thank you for sharing a personal memory about Greenpoint Hospital. As far as saving it, thankfully there aren't any plans to demolish any of the buildings. There is currently one abandoned building from the original complex and it is supposed to be repurposed for affordable housing, although, it should have be renovated a long time ago.

  3. I spent 14 years as an EMT in Brooklyn, and did my ER training here at Greenpoint, which was very convenient for me, since I lived half a block away on Jackson St. It was quite an introduction to emergency medicine, working in that ER. Later, when the site became a homeless shelter, the neighborhood declined quite a bit, and more than once I found people sleeping on my stoop, or my car broken into. I left Brooklyn, and NYC, in '99, after a fire wiped me out and left me homeless. I live in another state now, but I still look back on my time working EMS in the city, and my old neighborhood. I'm still a NY'r at heart I think.

    1. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your history with Greenpoint Hospital. It's nice to get a personal perspective on the place.

  4. I was born in this hospital in December of 1969

  5. I was born in this hospital in December of 1969

  6. I am so glad I made the attempt to search for the famous greenpoint Hospital where I was born in 1971. Thanks for your research that has brought this to light. I am looking forward to a visit to this historic sites with my family this year.

  7. Hello, I have a question. I know that when Greenpoint Hospital close its doors, they sent their patients to Woodhull Hospital. But where did the rest of the medical records go. Or where can I go find information on this?

    1. I'm not sure where the medical records from Greenpoint Hospital went but I can tell you what often happen to records when hospitals close. I have been in several abandoned hospital facilities including Greenpoint hospital. Often times the records, as well as furniture, equipment and other items are left in the buildings to rot to avoid disposal costs. Other times, I suspect that they are destroyed. In the case of Greenpoint Hospital, I think the records were most likely disposed of; although, it's possible that they were put in an offsite storage facility.