North Brother Island is an enigmatic no man's land between the Bronx and Riker's Island. Matthew Schlanger, a Nyack, N.Y., resident with a sailboat and a keen sense of adventure, accompanied a friend to visit the abandoned chunk of land back in 2007. It's only accessible (well, legally) via an arranged visit through the Parks department. Schlanger brought along a 3D camera, and later decided to turn the series of photographs he shot into a book. Overgrown vines blanketing dilapidated structures, piers with pilings rotting into the ground, broken glass and jagged chunks of wood... the island is an urban explorer's dream come true. (It's also become an obsession for those who love to traverse far-flung pockets of the city, like urban archeologist and photographer 2e, who shot a photo series there last year.) Schlanger's wife Laurie Needell wrote up a detailed history of the island, from its designation as a quarantine hospital (whose beds once held Typhoid Mary, wouldn't you know) far from the center of town where lepers and smallpox- and typhus-stricken patients were shipped to its never-realized use as a drug rehab center. Now a significant breeding ground for the area's birds, the island was also used as a dorm for World War II vets attending college on the GI bill.
Schlanger and Needell combined their work into a nifty 75-page ebook, North Brother Island: A History in 3D, which is available now for the iPad for 99 cents. Readers can choose whether to view 65-plus images as GIFs (official name: wiggle stereoscopy), anaglyphs (which require those red/blue glasses you use at 3D movies), or, for the visually cautious, as static photographs. "It allows you to put yourself in the environment a little bit more," co-author Needell says of the dynamic images. It's also a way for people to experience a place that difficult to get to and might not be around forever: "It's an island with a breached seawall in the river. Who knows how long these islands will really survive?"
These are GIFs of North Brother Island?scroll fast if you get dizzy easily!
These images all anaglyphs, which will pop out of your screen (we promise) if you don the red/blue glasses you'd use to see a 3D movie.
· North Brother Island: A History in 3D for iPad [App Store]
· How To Get To North Brother Island (And What To Do When You're There) [Radiolab]
· A 30-Photo Tour of the Abandoned North Brother Island [Curbed]