Greycourt / Camp LaGuardia
Chester, NY

Built by New York City in 1918, about 60 miles northwest of the city, the brick buildings of Greycourt served as a women's prison until 1934. The property was then turned over to the city's welfare department and it became a "farm colony" for unemployed men, bussed to the countryside from New York City. In 1935 it was renamed Camp Laguardia for New York City's sitting mayor Fiorello Laguardia. It was regarded as a "harmless haven for convalescing old men," many of whom worked in nearby Borscht Belt resorts. But in the 1980s crack and deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill changed all peaceful perceptions of the property. Tensions simmered in towns nearby as occasional incidents between local citizens and camp residents became more common and more violent.

In 2006, Mayor Bloomberg announced that New York City was getting out of the business of sheltering homeless people indefinitely and that Camp Laguardia would close in July 2007. Orange County Executive Ed Diana announced then that the property would become affordable/senior housing, and storage for new voting machines. The site remains disused however.

Photographs October 2013.

New York City in the Great Depression
Annual Report of the Prison Association of New York
Camp Laguardia Will Close By July
A Shelter Far From the Streets

The Seal of New York City. Pretty much tells the whole story of  the city's founding.



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