When Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola it was unnerving for everyone here in the U.S. As a new Dallas area resident, and someone who was hopping from plane to plane for a Fall series of speaking engagements, it definitely gave me pause.
Epidemics, quarantines, and communities trying to protect citizens have been age old dilemmas, so it makes sense to look back through history at the strategies employed. There is much to be learned.
If we ask the question “what would have happened if Ebola had struck the U.S. 130 years ago?” we don’t have to look much farther than the location of one of the most recent Ebola patient: New York.
In New York’s East River, tucked between the Bronx and Rikers Island lies North Brother Island, where in 1885 Riverside Hospital was relocated from Blackwell’s Island to isolate and treat small pox patients. From there it expanded to include the quarantine of other diseases.
North Brother Island stands idle today, closed to the public. However from 1907-1910 and 1915-1938 it housed the notorious Typhoid Mary, closing shortly after her death.
Although today the island is closed to the public, anyone can visit virtually with the aid of Google Earth. Join me on a 5+ minute tour of North Brother Island featuring the magazine and newspaper articles of the day, and written, audio and video tours of how it stands today a shell of what it once was. Click here to download and play my Google Earth Historic Tour KMZ file on your computer. It will be added to your “Places” panel in Google Earth under “Temporary Places.” Open the folder and click the “click to play the tour” icon. Be sure your speakers are on! And take time to click to watch the video and view the articles in the placemarks.
Don’t have Google Earth loaded yet? Download it free here.