Laundry, Butcher, Dynamo Buildings and Smoke Stack


Following a review in 1904, the City Council passed legislation to build a new reformatory for “youthful offenders,” young men ages 16-30. This measure involved removing older male prisoners from Hart Island and erecting new buildings unlike conventional prison structures, as well as remodeling existing structures using inmate labor. This group of buildings, completed in 1912, provided power and a source of employment for young men living in the reformatory. They worked shifts in the laundry, cared for farm animals and harvested food grown on Hart Island that was consumed locally and distributed to City Hospitals. There was shoe making and ironwork training. Hart Island depended on coal deliveries by boat and water piped in from the mainland but was otherwise self-sufficient. This physical plant operated until 1976, when drug treatment center Phoenix House was ordered to vacate Hart Island.

Image©1992 Joel Sternfeld courtesy The Hart Island Project