KPPC

The Kings Park Psychiatric Center was established in 1885 by Kings County. The official name of the hospital in its first 10 years was the Kings County Asylum. Eventually, the Kings County Asylum began to suffer from overcrowding. New York State responded to the problem in 1895, when control of the asylum passed into state hands, and it was renamed the Kings Park State Hospital. The state eventually built the hospital into a self-sufficient community that not only grew its own food, but also generated its own heat and electricity, had its own Long Island Rail Road spur and housed its staff on-site. During the 1930s, the famous 13-story Building 93 was constructed. Designed by state architect William E. Haugaard, the building, often dubbed “the most famous asylum building on Long Island,” was completed in 1939. It was used as an infirmary for the facility’s geriatric patients, as well as for patients with chronic physical ailments. After World War II, patient populations at Kings Park and the other Long Island asylums increased markedly. In 1954, the patient census at Kings Park topped 9,303, but would begin a steady decline afterward. By the time Kings Park reached its peak patient population, the old “rest and relaxation” philosophy surrounding farming had been succeeded by more invasive techniques of pre-frontal lobotomies and electroshock therapy. However, those methods were soon abandoned after 1955, following the introduction of Thorazine, the first widely used drug in the treatment of mental illness. As medication made it possible for patients to live normal lives outside of a mental institution, the need for large facilities such as Kings Park diminished, and the patient population began to decrease. By the early 1990s, the Kings Park Psychiatric Center, as it came to be known, was much reduced. Many of the buildings were shut down or reduced in usage. This included the massive Building 93. In response to the declining patient population, the New York State Office of Mental Health developed plans to close Kings Park as well as another Long Island asylum, in the early 1990s. The plans called for Kings Park to close, and the remaining patients to be transferred, or be discharged. In the fall of 1996, the plans were implemented. The few remaining patients from Kings Park were transferred, ending Kings Park’s 111-year run. Today it sits abandoned and very vandalized in a public park. Everyone is welcome to walk around the park and enjoy the history of a once lively asylum; however, entering the buildings is prohibited.

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