The 'I'm not leaving the US on my own accord' Road Trip: Day 4 (Continued from here)

Summer 2008

Northern New Jersey to Long Island (rough map)
(Approximately 2 hours of travel)

We had called Caveman sometime the day before and he gave us an ultimatum. Since we would have to drive through NYC today, we could either come before rush hour or after; and he preferred if we came before.

I think that Chad & UJ were leaning towards after, but I persuaded them into leaving at a time to pass through NYC before rush hour. The previous night's motel was about 40 minutes from NYC and we had to drive about an hour after NYC once on Long Island. This all meant that our alarms were set for 4:30am.

UJ ended up waking me at 4:45 because my cell phone is unreliable. Regardless of that extra 15 minutes, 4 1/2 hours sleep didn't really cut it, but I stumbled into the shower to wake myself for the day.

One thing I've never understood is how people can sleep while driving thru new places. Sure, I had passed by NYC already once in my life; but that was at night, in the rain, while trying to take pictures and drive.

Today afforded me a chance to sit back and take in NYC while Chad navigated the heavy traffic. I got a large Dunkin' Donuts coffee to keep me awake and we were on our way. We looked at the other drivers living through their non-vacationing mundane days. We all agreed that it would suck to have to wake up an hour early everyday just to fight traffic because you couldn't afford a house in Manhattan.

As we passed inside the boroughs, we started to see 'No Photography' signs and Chad told us of how some guy actually caught up to him last time and started yelling at him (because he was taking pictures). This lead to Chad impersonating NYC accents and our amusement.

"Get this ah car, the fuck outta the way, ya mooly..."

After the $9 toll bridges of NY, it was smooth sailing on the Long Island Expressway. We spent something like an hour on it until we found ourselves on the Long Island county roads, before reaching our friend's house. We all caught up quickly and I knew how bad the tunnels were where we were going, so I quietly searched the trunk to no avail. Oh shit, we need to go? Ok.

"Oh man, where's my wallet now? Never mind, I'll find it when we get there."

We broke off the Long Island expressway for the King's Park exit. Our Long Island friend asked for my phone number as we drove. I knew what it was for and hoped we wouldn't have to resort to that.

If we were going to hit this place, we had the right person with us though.

We pulled into King's Park, NY and I found my wallet...on the top of Chad's trunk! It had survived a long drive on the Long Island expressway at 70 mph speeds. Even looking back at it now I got so incredibly lucky - I didn't have the money to pay Chad back; I had everything in there, it would have ruined everything.

That definitely left me shook. I was trying to get myself together, but there was no time for that - we needed to get moving.

We entered a building and made for the tunnels. The first section was a 5 footer with about 6 inches of water. Our Long Island friend trudged through and looked back - he had assumed we would wear boots. Oh well, at least it was warm for the newbies. With only two flashlights, I took up the caboose of the animal train through the tween sized tunnel. My feet trudging through warm, stagnant water like I was in a bathtub where the drain is clogged with your girl's aunt's gross hair that you are not unclogging. I would look down to see my feet moving through this water and the tunnel straightened me out with a metal rod like a nun at a private school. Pay attention Navi, you aren't strolling into the Fisher anymore.

The small tunnel would end quickly as we found our way into a more standard sized section. In fact, these tunnels were more intense than any that I was used to. The sizable distance to the first building was walked through dark, confusing tunnels leading in directions only known to our Long Island friend.

Although we walked for what seemed like kilometres, it wasn't just simple walking either, it was climbing under pipes, over pipes and over crazy combinations with random metal, like climbing cars at a junkyard. There were stairs up, stairs down and even more tunnel. Every now and then we'd pass under a sewer lid and get a smidgen of natural light into this stagnant environment.

This was only for our particular destination a to destination b. Throughout the journey, an overflow of tunnels streamed outward from us, leading to their own particular treasures if you chose to endure them. The network and the possibilities were fascinating to me & I wondered if our Long Island friend was growing tired of UJ and I asking where this tunnel went and where that tunnel went.

After what seemed like an eternity, we reached our destination and jumped through more hoops to make our way from the tunnels into the building.

^From inside that first building I showed a picture of.

In 1885, Kïngs Park opened on 800 acres as the Kings County Asylum. It varied from the mental hospital norm by having diluted populations perform farm tasks, which were believed to be a form of therapy for the mentally ill at the time.

The diluted populations soon became concentrated and overcrowding came to Kings County Asylum like it did for other asylums. Around this time, the state acquired Kings County and renamed it Kïngs Park, along with the hamlet that surrounded the facility. Kïngs Park rivaled the hamlet in that Kïngs Park was, in itself, a self sustaining community with its own power plant, food sources, staff and Long Island Rail Spur. I've found a list of 79 buildings and their purposes, but most sites claim that Kïngs Park, at one time, had 150 buildings.

The overpopulation continued to be problematic and the administration attempted to fight it by building tall structures instead of large, flat structures. This is when building 93 (the building in the above picture) was built. At 13 stories, it is what one thinks of, when one thinks of Kïngs Park. It housed geriatric patients as well as those with chronic physical ailments.

Building 93 wasn't the only building built at this time as the handful of original buildings continually acquired new neighbours.

Kïngs Park population would peak at 9300 in 1954, before steadily declining with advances in medicine which allowed us to drug our mentally ill instead of housing them in large asylums.

The asylum would close in 1996, after a 111 year run.

From 93, we went towards the Quads.

The tunnel brought us into some sort of substation building and back into tunnels headed towards the Quads.

(If you're a KP expert and this is wrong, I'm sorry. I spent the last 15 minutes wracking my brain and trying to remember what this building was.)

(I read somewhere that this is building 84, but another site says 84 is something else...)

It was into the Quads and up to the 2nd floor where we sat and ate some food and drank some much needed water.

The Quads, or technically, Group 4, were built in 1933 for geriatric care. The Quads have to have one of the most unique building footprints; I didn't understand our Long Island friend's explanation that day or a web site description I just read today. After looking at a web site, I now have a handle.

The Quads (Group 4) are buildings 41, 42 & 43. Now lets say you are building 41 and building 43 is your friend. You are both laying on the ground with your elbows bent 90 degrees and fingers pointing away from your body, so that you both are shaped like hourglasses. You have a safe distance between you two, but you are still both side-by-side hourglasses on the ground. This is where building 42 comes in, as building 42 is shaped like an x, touching your elbow & thigh closest to your friend and your friend's elbow & thigh closest to you.

Buildings 41 (you) & 43 (your friend) were both geriatric wards standing at the Quad's height of 4 floors. Building 42 was also 4 stories and consisted of kitchens and dining halls.

^Courtney's head and left arm.
Building 93 is in the background.

Buildings 41 (you) & 43 (your friend) were built in the hourglass fashion to permit the greatest amount of light to reach the wards.

Building 42 (the x connector) was placed in its position to create a courtyard between each building and itself. (Think about it: the one side of the x will be touching both your elbow and thigh, therefore creating a courtyard).

If you didn't catch any of that, here's a satellite image.

We saw a pool table without its slate top in the Quads as well.

We still couldn't determine how the table knows the difference between the numbered balls and the cue ball.

A regular complaint about Kïngs Park is the lack of 'stuff' left in the buildings.

This is quite true for The Quads as they're pretty empty.

Chilling on the roof and seeing a building with such an odd footprint was still a good way to spend a Thursday afternoon though.

From The Quads, we hit the tunnels and decided to check out Building 29; which is the 4th power plant of the 4 built during Kïngs Park's lifetime. It was originally coal powered and then converted to oil/natural gas.

The Power Plant provides a nice view of 93, so we glared out of the window at it for a while.

I asked my Long Island friend what those cement things were and he told me they were the old supports for the elevated train line which brought coal to the plant.

Also the building you can barely see (look between the train support and 93) is building 57, the trade & repair shop).

Once we were done looking through the power plant; our Long Island friend asked us what we wanted to do. It had been nearly 6 hours at this point and we were growing tired from the long tunnel walks and the lack of food (we still didn't learn to bring enough). He said we were the guests and he would go as long as we wanted, so we had a decision.

It was still too early for us to even front like it was a tough decision. We decided we were going to hit one more building this day.

The problem was that our Long Island friend asked us what we wanted to hit?

Maybe we should of researched and knew a little more than 93, 93 and 93 going into this.

This resulted in us asking for a recommendation and our Long Island friend suggesting Building 21.

Building 21 housed geriatrics and also had a general infirmary. It was built in 1957, making it one of the more modern buildings on the campus.

We spent another hour or so in Building 21. Again, it was a lot of empty floors and the odd artifact.

It was a long day; our feet hurt and we were becoming quite parched and hungry.

Deciding our day was complete at Kïngs Park, we headed for the tunnels.

This is where our Long Island friend asked if we wanted to see the morgue. It was in a nearby building, but we'd have to be really quiet since it's not condemned.

UJ was the first to speak up and declared that she was fine with not seeing it, and that we should get going. The group somewhat agreed and began moving one way in the tunnel until I said, "well wait, we're tired, but what the hell, it's close, aint it?"

Sure enough, we made our way over and into Building 7 and saw the 12 person capacity morgue.

The interesting thing was that the trays had double doors so that the one side had the autopsy room and this side was where the bodies would be put into medical vans or hursts.

Building 7 was located far from where we entered the tunnels. It was time to embark on the long trek back.

After climbing more pipes and navigating more tunnels; I decided I still hadn't had enough and asked if we could stop at one more random building.

I should explain something: soon after I got into this hobby, I began reading about America's old insane asylums; a lot of these being 40-50 building campuses.

Where we got into this hobby from the mystery of Detroit, a lot of those who share this hobby with me grew up with a nearby asylum shrouded in mystery. As youths, teens and adults, they would go to these places for hours, exploring them thoroughly.

Since we never had an asylum, I've always wanted one and dreamed of hitting every last building on the campus map. It seems that a lot of people will go to the famous asylums and hit the same buildings; I've always wanted to go to these places and do a bunch of the weird buildings that no one else does.

That's why I was so excited to hit building 36 - the old nurse's quarters built in 1931.

Even though I don't have one of these places, and I don't know when I'll be able to move near one; I sort of lived my dream of hitting an obscure outbuilding.

While everyone else quickly passes 36 on their way to 93, the Quads, 80* (theatre) or 23* (bingo hall / swimming pool), I was thrilled with the opportunity to explore such an obscure building.

*We spent about 8 hours at Kïngs Park on this day. There was no possible way to do these two buildings as well as other obscure ones I'd want to it. This place could fill your palette for years.

I would have to thank the Long Island friend and UJ/Chad here. Chad took a few photos before joining his girl on the staircase while they waited patiently for me to finish. Our Long Island friend is an absolute workhorse, who was unfazed and continued on like it was the first building of the day.

The fourth floor roof was half existent, so I moved carefully on planks to a ladder which gave me an up close glimpse at the cupolas of Building 36.

Fuckin eh man. Fuckin, eh.

I could have stayed in Building 36 for hours, but I could tell the group was growing tired; as was I. We escaped Kïngs Park PC and got on our way. After some Gatorade at the local 7-11, it was back to our Long Island friend's house. We made small talk for a short time before giving our Long Island friend our full gratitude as we left for a nearby campground. In passing, our Long Island friend said we could camp in the front yard if we really wanted to, but he had already did enough, so we didn't want to impose.

After leaving, driving and talking, it was already quarter to nine. We made our way over to the campground and found that it closed 30 minutes prior. For some reason though, no one was around, so we helped ourselves to some much needed showers. That may have been the most refreshing shower of my life, as the activities of the day made me feel like I had the equivalent grime on my body of going biking for 5 days straight, no shower.

Since the campground was closed, we were sort of in a pickle. Remembering, but unsure if he was serious, we called our Long Island friend back and tested whether he had enough of us yet. He hadn't and we were back on the Long Island county route.

Arriving at our friend's house, he offered the back of his truck for someone to sleep in. It finally came in handy being the third wheel as I quickly snapped it up. My bed was made in about 20 seconds as I simply laid down my sleeping bag. I then took to sitting back and sipping an ice cold, delicious 211 as UJ & Chad took to setting up their tent.

We got the tent setup and went to do some laundry at the local laundromat (wondering where that Navi in a Long Island cart pic came from on facebook were you?). Afterwards we went back to our friend's house and left with him in Chad's car to get something to eat. Moving through the Long Island night, we looked for New York style pizza, but had to settle on Domino's.

Returning to our friend's house, he produced some delicious spicy toppings to add to our pizza. Could he do anymore this day? I think not.

Our limited supply of beer and pizza quickly vanished and we were all ready for some much needed rest. I climbed in the back of the pickup truck, texted a few people and quickly fell asleep. My first, and only, Long Island day of my life was an exceptional one.

Day 5...


Sources: 1.Sean Hardy's Kïngs Park PC Pictures

2. Opacity - Kïngs Park PC History

3. Kïngs Park Heritage Museum

Go Home

Day 1
Detroit to Camden
Spring City

Day 2
Philly to Delaware

Day 3
Delaware to Northern NJ
Paterson, NJ
Cedar Grove, NJ

Day 5
Long Island to Norwich, CT
Day 6
Norwich, CT to Taunton, MA
Jerimoth Hill
Day 7
Taunton, MA to Northern NJ
Nearby, MA

Day 8/9
Northern, NJ to Detroit
Cedar Grove, NJ