Originally it housed and treated anyone deemed 'insane' or 'lunatic', but later only took on those who could afford to pay... unfortunately money did not equate to good or humane treatment.
'Care' for the Mentally Ill
At the time it was the only hospital for the care of the mentally ill in the state until another asylum specifically for those mentally ill and 'poor' was built on what is now Roosevelt Island.
Bloomingdale then became an asylum for those whose families could afford to pay for the treatment and as such it was regarded as being a place for the best treatment with top of the line staff and facilities... or at least that is what was believed by those on the outside looking in.
The land itself amongst the buildings was beautiful with carefully manicured lawns and gardens. There were orchards, small parcels of farming land and even a few stables and pens as it was considered therapeutic for the patients to work outside in the fresh air.
Chambers with the help of some friends and work colleagues had himself committed to the asylum and spent ten days on the inside living as a patient before being released (American Horror Story: Asylum anyone?). In those ten days he uncovered many cases of patient abuse, sadistic nurses and handlers, poor conditions, overcrowding and poor nutrition.
He saw first hand many cases of patients being abused including one man who should be considered a hero. This patient would interfere any time a member of staff abused a patient, this happened so regularly that the staff ended up just tying this hero to a chair and eventually one of the 'keepers' took it upon themselves to break this heroes skull...
Patients were often strangled, kicked and punched and it was such abuses that Chambers believed led to many patient suicides.
Another violation saw him witness a woman being committed because she discovered her husband had had an affair. He only allowed her to be released when she promised not to ever bring it up again.
Chambers articles saw many changes come about in Bloomingdale and other asylums including the release of 12 patients who were not insane and a complete reorganisation of the administration and staff.
Macy Villa was the last building built for the asylum and its purpose was to house the richest of their male patients. It was designed so that they could live and be treated in 'home-like' surroundings. Although today the wooden verandah is now gone the outside of this building has changed very little.
Other parts of the asylum that still exist are located underground. Many of Columbia Universities buildings are connected by underground tunnels which carry pipes, cables and access ways. Some of these tunnels go right back to the asylum days and the tunnels would have been used for a similar purpose but there are some legends that state patients would be locked down there, chained up underground for misbehaving repeatedly.
A Haunted or Cursed Doll?
In the late 1800s a young girl named Jane Bielawski received a doll as a gift which she named 'Missy'. Jane lived in a New York Tenement and when some of her friends started die under suspicious circumstances and investigation was carried out. All leads led back to the young Jane Bielawski who seemed to be present at the times of the murders.
When the police attempted to interview the young girl she flew into a fit of terror, blaming the deaths on her doll Missy and even one time throwing it out of her fifth floor window. All questionings went the same way and the with the police certain of who the real culprit was, had Jane locked up in Bloomingdale Asylum.
Jane remained in the asylum system until her death in 1968. Even as an old lady she still maintained that Missy was the culprit of the murders and that she herself was innocent.
A bit of a creepy story but not one that can be substantiated.