Where: Morningside Heights, New York City
Years Of Operation: 1821 to 1880
Stressed out students studying at Columbia University's Buell Hall can take solace in the fact that they're not nearly as insane as the building's former occupants; The grounds were once home to the Bloomingdale Lunatic Asylum.
Created in 1821, the hospital intended to morally rehabilitate insane patients. This "moral management" included some unsavory practices that were exposed by journalist Julius Chambers in 1872. With the help of the senior editor of the New York Tribune, Chambers had himself committed to the institution for ten days.
After emerging, he published a story detailing the inhuman practices at the asylum, including patients who were kicked and choked until they bled, and, in some cases, "driven to suicide by systematic cruelties." The story resulted in the release of twelve patients at the facility who were not mentally ill, and his subsequent book, A Mad World and Its People, led to reform for the rights of the mentally ill.