North Brother Island sits in the East River, just west of Rikers Island and south of Barretto Point Park in the Bronx. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was home to a hospital for patients with infectious diseases; after that, it housed returning WWII veterans. In the ’50s and ’60s, it was a juvenile drug rehab center, and since then, it’s sat unused.

In 2008, photographer Christopher Payne began traveling to the island to take pictures, arriving by boat, and accompanied by parks department representatives. His new book, North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York Citydocuments what he saw. See a few photos in the gallery and more at Slate.