Why You Should Be Reading the Scouting NY Blog

A NYC-based film location scout discovers the gem that is the Rockland County Psychiatric Center



Photographs courtesy of ScoutingNY.com

I can see why you’d be skeptical if someone told you to read the Scouting NY blog. After all, it’s written by Nick Carr, a film location scout based in New York City. It seems like that would only appeal to the geekiest of pop culture geeks (ahem), and even then, the locations would all be in New York City.

Sure, the blog addresses things like why filmmakers are never quite satisfied with New York City’s Chinese restaurants, all of the filming locations of Annie Hall, and what the inside of a jaw-droppingly spectacular Queens movie palace looks like today. (And, yeah, some of us geeks find that interesting anyway.)

Then again, you’ll be surprised at how often “Scout” has to venture into this area to, say, find a half-a-house on the route to Stony Kill Falls, stumble across a forgotten missile base in the Adirondacks, or take a tour of Playland after-hours. Usually, his posts include a full-on photo tour of whatever interesting site he’s found, plus additional information he was able to dig up about the place if any info was available. (You might also be interested in his tour of Alder Manor in Yonkers, or the Astor Place-style cube sculpture he found on a Westchester lawn.)

Rockland County Psychiatric Center Rockland County Psychiatric Center

The most fascinating post he’s done recently, though, is right in our backyard: a tour of the Rockland County Psychiatric Center. It’s actually a three-parter: the initial visits take place here and here, and then locals shared their memories of the place here. The photo tour goes in and around many buildings of the sprawling complex, which, at its height, had 11,000 people on its campus daily. (It even had its own power plant.) 

» Read our feature on abandoned mansions and asylums

The photo tour takes you through abandoned buildings, stopping at faded murals, original signs, and even some creepy graffiti. But the post about the memories, which alternates between photos and actual stories that took place there, is even more eerie. Here’s what some of the locals — workers, patients, neighbors — had to say about the place:

“I worked at RPC from 1970-1991 as a psychologist, in many of those buildings... I rescued a patient who had just hanged herself in one of those windows, and a year later I discovered (too late) that same patient in the act of strangling to death another patient.”

“I grew up down the road from the hospital. Occasionally, the police would drive around and tell all the kids to go inside because someone had escaped.”

“Do you remember when all of us were left alone during the evening to clean that long hallway in Cottage 3? Boy do I remember! We soaped the hallway down, took off our gowns and started sliding down the hallway. We would slide all the way down to the end of the hallway where a hot steaming radiator was awaiting us. We would try to break before we hit the radiator but the soapy floor proved to be too challenging and we ended up hitting it, butts first. POW! Boy did that sting... Yes, we had some bad times but we had some good times too and we made the best of it. We were ‘The Little Rascals of Rockland.’ ”

Definitely worth a read. Do you have any memories of the Rockland County Psychiatric Center? Spotted any local filming locations? Let me know in the Facebook comments box below.

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About This Blog

Marisa LaScala

Marisa LaScala
Elmsford, NY


Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at www.popmatters.com, where she is a staff writer.

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