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Overbrook insane asylum (1/3)

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Published on May 22, 2012

In 1896, Essex County Officials designated 325 acres of land as the new location of the Essex County Asylum for the Insane. Located in what was then Verona and is now Cedar Grove, the facility housed mentally ill patients who required daily care. The site was selected due to its remote, high altitude location, which, it was believed, could provide a healthy, peaceful setting for patients to rehabilitate in. The complex came to be known as Overbrook, due to its location just beyond the Peckman River. In the early half of the twentieth century, Overbrook was at full capacity. In the 1940s and '50s, thousands of patients were housed at the Fairview Avenue facility at any given time. The facility was so large that it had its own train stop on the Caldwell Branch of the Erie Railroad, used to transport the massive amounts of coal and fuel needed to run the hospital complex. Underneath the grounds of the hospital lie miles upon miles of underground tunnels. These tunnels connected all the buildings. You can still access these tunnels by going into the basement of any one of the abandoned buildings. In addition to tunnels many of the buildings were connected by shared basements that are now filled with decaying hospital equipment and old patient records.

In 1906 there was 842 deaths in the city of Newark caused by tuberculosis and the city needed to find a place to keep these incurables, so in 1908 the hospital opened its doors and became a place to die for hundreds of tuberculosis victims. The advancement of medical technology was slow, however, and the patients suffered horribly, taking every strained breath as if it were their last. It took 44 years for the suffering at Overbrook to finally end. In 1952, a drug called streptomycin was introduced to tb patients with great success and proved to be a cure for it. In the winter of 1917, the hospital suffered a major catastrophe with the failure of the hospital's boilers and a number of patients froze to death in their beds. Over In the winter of 1975, Overbrook hospital officially ceased operation and was left to die. Over 10,000 patients died within its walls before it closed and started its long decline into ruination and decay.

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