The area of my fictional Zone is based mostly on the small city of Poughkeepsie, NY, about two hours upstate from New York City. I went to college there, and it’s where I developed my love of exploring abandoned and ruined places.
The city has been around since the 1600s, and has had a lot of economic ups and downs. It’s been an ice town, a whale rendering town, and the headquarters of IBM. Needless to say, none of these industries is currently flourishing, and as a result Po’town has its fair share of crumbling edifices.
The most amazing ruin in the place is the Hudson State River Hospital. It was founded in 1871—as the Hudson River Hospital for the Insane. Large hospitals for the mentally ill are a thing of the past, of course, and HSRH was in decline for a long time before it closed in 2003. As a bonus, it was struck by lightning in 2007.
Its main building, however, remains a crumbling jewel of High Victorian Gothic architecture. And it’s now-decrepit grounds were designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Olmsted, creators of NYC’s Central Park. It was gorgeous in life and remains so in ruination. It’s also as creepy in real life as anything in the Zone, so I’ve used it as an important setting for Addison’s adventures.
See you next Wednesday.