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mookster

USA Overbrook Asylum May 2016

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Construction of the Essex County Hospital Center, also known as Overbrook Asylum began at the end of the 19th Century. Over the next couple of decades it was expanded with more buildings added gradually as it grew into a large institution. It was so large it had it's own railway station on the branch line used to transport the huge quantities of coal needed to power the complex. During the 20th century attitudes towards mental health care dramatically changed, and the facility was gradually wound down until in the 1990s it was operating but with very few patients. During this time the administrators began the process of closing wards and other buildings, until the final curtain fell on the site in early 2007, when patients and staff were moved to a brand new, smaller, hospital in the local area.

 

I had wanted to see Overbrook for a very long time, ever since my first trip over to the states but back then it was not to be for a few reasons. It just so happens that one of my friends/exploring buddies out there is very local to the hospital and has been visiting the site pretty much since the day the final door shut in 2007, he's probably been inside the asylum over 350 times now and knows the place like a second home. That may seem excessive, but when it is within walking distance of where you lived and as amazing as it is inside I can understand why. He describes it as the best explore New Jersey has ever had, and in a state filled with dozens of abandoned hospitals and institutions that's a big thing to say. A month or so ago my heart sank as I saw the first photos posted of the long talked about demolition of the site beginning so it quickly became a 'we must see it now' explore.

 

And I am so glad I did. I honestly never thought I'd see a better asylum than West Park way back when but my first impressions of being in here were of it being like the best bits of Cane Hill, West Park and Hellingly all rolled into one asylum. It's got a ridiculous amount of equipment left inside, four dental suites, a mortuary, an entire records vault filled with patient records from the mid-20th century, oodles of decay and a huge power plant with it's own turbine hall. Unfortunately the main hall was one building demolished in 2007 when the place closed. It was an (excuse the pun) crazy place to walk around, I could have stayed in there the entire day and not seen it all. My companions showed me all the best bits, the must-sees and the awesome spots, I took many many photos and we got out without a worry.

 

Ironically the place was seriously tagged up before any real decay set in, so a lot of the graffiti has since peeled off the walls!

 

When I explored it they had demolished maybe a quarter to a third of the site, so god knows how much is left now. Once this place goes it will be the death of a true icon of American exploring, felt much the same as the demise of West Park was over here. All I know is my three friends who have explored it a ridiculous number of times will be in there exploring until the very last building comes down.

 

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The old dining hall below - this was right on the edge of where the demolition crews had got up to. Probably gone now.

 

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Thanks for looking, loads more shots on my Flickr...

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What an awesome place, it's got that perfect blend of decay, nice details, & artifacts. This was a very enjoyable reoort to read & you've documented the place well :-D

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19 hours ago, The_Raw said:

Wow that's fuckin bad ass!! :shock:

 

It's a beast, and it seriously gets under your skin. I was introduced to a friend of my friend who accompanied us on the explore, he too has visited the place hundreds of times and is in his own words addicted to the place. It has a very strange effect on people, for a couple of days afterwards my mind kept wandering towards the asylum, and even going through the photos here brought forward feelings of longing to walk through it again which are unlike any memories or thoughts I've had about explores before. I'm just lucky I got to see it when I did, albeit with about 1/3 of the place demolished. I would have kicked myself if I hadn't seen it before it follows the other iconic New Jersey asylum, Greystone, into the ground.

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