Disturbing Pictures Alert: Strecker Memorial Laboratory

Strecker Memorial Laboratory was a pathology lab connected to City Hospital, which I wrote about in my book about Blackwell’s Island. The lab was closed by the 1950’s and a photographer named Anna Kaysen went inside in the 1960s and took pictures of what was left behind. Which was a lot it turned out. This one was the saddest.

Anna must have found it among all the artifacts in these jars. This one seems to have been taken with a different camera. It almost feels like it was taken in the 19th century, and not just because of the sepia tone. I enlarged it to try to see what was in the rest of the jars, but it was not clear enough to tell.

This appears to be a foot just laying on the floor. How could it remain so well preserved?

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

4 thoughts on “Disturbing Pictures Alert: Strecker Memorial Laboratory

  1. I’m sorry…is that a baby’s head? In a jar? Why would they preserve it like that?
    I think it’s probably a mercy you can’t see what’s in the rest of the jars. It’s like a horrible bizarro version of a root cellar with jars of preserved food in it–only completely horrifying.

  2. I think it must be a fetus, and they must have kept it to study it, or as a learning tool?

    I’m guessing that when the people who left the lab for what would be the last time they didn’t know it was about to be closed. Or, they assumed somoene else would be responsible to breaking it down.

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