The journalist exposed abuse at an asylum in New York—now she’s finally getting the public recognition she deserves.
A memorial to late journalist Nellie Bly is coming to Roosevelt Island in New York City. It will be located near the infamous mental hospital that was exposed by Bly’s investigative reporting.
In 1887, 23-year-old Bly, whose real name was Elizabeth Cochrane, went undercover as a patient at the Blackwell Island Insane Asylum for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. Her groundbreaking series, “Ten Days in a Mad House,” was later published as a book. The report detailed inhumane conditions for women patients, who were fed spoiled food, forced to take cold showers, and abused by staff.
“She’s one of our local heroes,” Roosevelt Island Operating Corp President Susan Rosenthal stated. “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.”
In March 2019, New York City announced new memorials for historically significant women. As of 2017, the city only had five public statues of women. Upcoming statue recipients include former Representative Shirley Chisholm, jazz singer Billie Holiday, and Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías.
Separate from the city’s projects, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation budgeted up to $500,000 for Bly’s monument. The group will select a winning artist’s design in September 2019 and the memorial is scheduled for a May 2020 unveiling.