Memorial to journalist Nellie Bly planned for site of asylum she exposed

Library of Congress/H.J. Myers

Journalist Nellie Bly will be honored with a memorial on New York City’s Roosevelt Island, the site of a notorious mental hospital she exposed in 1887, according to news outlet The City.

Bly infiltrated the Women’s Lunatic Asylum for Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper the New York World.

In her series of articles “Ten Days in a Mad-House,” she documented abuse by staff, rotten food and unsanitary conditions. The report launched a grand jury investigation and a nearly $1 million budget increase for the Department of Public Charities and Corrections.

{mosads}“She’s one of our local heroes,” Susan Rosenthal, president of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, told The City. “The combination of who she was, the importance of investigative journalism and the fact that it happened here just made it perfect for the island.”

Rosenthal said she was inspired to push for the Bly memorial after seeing plans for a monument to former Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.), the first black woman elected to Congress.

“She started the ball rolling on social justice and insane asylums, even if she didn’t have a thousand percent success,” Judith Berdy, president of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, told the news outlet. “She got it publicized and that’s what counts … she had a lot of nerve.”

The group is asking artists to submit design ideas for the memorial with a deadline of Friday. It has budgeted up to $500,000 for the memorial.

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