Willowbrook State School was a state-supported institution for children with intellectual disabilities located in the Willowbrook neighborhood on Staten Island in from 1947 until 1987. The institution gained national infamy in 1972, when Geraldo Rivera did an expose on the conditions there. Public outcry led to its closure in 1987, and to federal civil rights legislation protecting people with disabilities.
Investigative reporter Geraldo Rivera’s 1972 exposé documentary of the Willowbrook State School. The exposé revealed gruesome conditions and neglected mentally disabled children.
Unforgotten: Twenty -Five Years After Willowbrook. A critically acclaimed, award-winning documentary that examines the impact of the horrors of the notorious Willowbrook State Institution for the developmentally disabled on the survivors and their families, Unforgotten features eloquent testimonials of family members and focuses on the lives of survivors, 25 years after Geraldo Rivera’s historic television expose.
In 2016 PBS looks back at journalist Geraldo Rivera’s 1972 landmark investigation of Staten Island’s Willowbrook State School
Children with developmental disabilities were held under brutal conditions at a notorious New York facility. Decades later, they still face abuse and neglect.
A memorial walking trail was established in 2012, the unique project aims to preserve the site’s history and create a visionary presence that commemorates the continuing struggle for social justice for all people of all abilities. When it opened, Willowbrook set out to establish a better standard of care for individuals with developmental disabilities in an institutional setting.