The Essex County Hospital is a defunct psychiatric hospital that is located in Cedar Grove, New Jersey.
The hospital was used to house mentally ill patients that were in need of care. Located at the edge of the Hilltop Reservation and designated a Conservation Easement in 2001 by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the site now is part of the Essex County park system.
Sitting on over 90 acres of land, and it housed over 1000 patients who were tormented by mental illness, some of whom had died. This facility began in the late 1800's, when the original Essex County Hospital in Newark was too overcrowded. They first built the "Star Ward" of the complex in 1896. The Hill wards were constructed in 1909, when the Star Ward was beginning to be packed beyond capacity. At the turn of the century, psychology was in its infancy. Mental illness was a source of fear and shame, and families locked away loved ones in institutions like this away from society. It was pretty much internal torture. Those who were treated were often subject to barbaric therapies, such as "hydrotherapy", where they would water somebody down in lukewarm water, and "Diathermics", where they would attach electrodes to patients' heads. A lot of people spent the last years of their lives here.
In the winter of 1917, the boilers broke, and for weeks thousands suffered in the sub-zero conditions and 24 died. These deaths were only a small portion of the deaths at the psychiatric hospital, though: There were over 10,000 deaths over all. When you consider it was in operation for 111 years that's really only one death every four days, which isn't that many for a century old psychiatric hospital. People from other departments stationed here have reportedly seen a nurse in full 18th-century garb walking around making rounds in the otherwise abandoned halls. Other people, like photographer and urban explorer EsseXploreR, who has spent over 800 hours in the hospital has never experienced anything.
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