Southpoint Park / Smallpox Hospital
Opened: December 18, 1856
Architect: James Renwick, Jr.
Southpoint Park is located on the southern tip of the island. The area includes the former grounds of the City Hospital, the restored Strecker Laboratory and the ruins of the Smallpox Hospital. There is also a built-up area to the south of the Smallpox Hospital that appears to have been prepared for a Franklin Roosevelt Memorial that was planned in the 1970s but never built.
The most captivating feature of the park as of this writing is the crumbling shell of the Smallpox Hospital which was built between 1854 and 1956 and opened on December 18, 1856. The design was by James Renwick, Jr., who is also responsible for St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan. Although a technique for vaccinating for smallpox had been discovered in 1796 by Edward Jenner and vaccination was common by the time the hospital was built, the highly-contagious and deadly disease was common among new immigrants and continued to plague the city. The building was unique among facilities on the island in that it treated indigent patients as well as paying clients (who were housed on upper floors). Northern and southern wings were added to the hospital later.
The obsolete facility was closed along with City Hospital just to the north in 1957. The building quickly fell into disrepair and was ultimately reduced to a shell. The building was landmarked and at the time of my visit there were plans for its stabilization as a picturesque ruin. (reference)