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New York Hospital or “Old New York Hospital” or “City Hospital” (now the New York-Presbyterian Hospital ) was the oldest hospital in New York City and the second oldest hospital in the United States.
The origin of the New York Hospital can be traced to the commencement address of Dr. Samuel Bard, Professor of the “Practice of Medicine”, delivered to the first two medical doctors to graduate from King’s College (Now Columbia College, Columbia University) in 1769 titled “A discourse upon the duties of a physician, with some sentiments on the usefulness and necessity of a public hospital.” Apparently city leaders also listening to this address were impressed enough to pledge one thousand pounds sterling.
Dr. Peter Middleton reported on the progress with furthering this idea in another address to King’s College on November 3, 1769, stating “The necessity and usefulness of a public infirmary has so warmly and pathetically set forth in a discourse delivered by Dr. Samuel Bard… that his Excellency, Sir Henry Moore immediately set on foot a subscription for that purpose to which himself and most of the gentlemen present liberally contributed.” Soon thereafter the new Governor of the Colony, John, the Earl of Dunmore through the interposition of Lieutenant Governor Cadwallader-Colden ” started a fund for the establishment of such a hospital.
On June 13, 1771 , King George III of England granted a royal charter to establish "The Society of the New York Hospital in the City of New York in America" and a Board of Governors for the "reception of such patients as require medical treatment, chirurgical management and maniacs." The first regular meeting of the Governors after its organization was held on July 24, 1771 at Bolton’s Tavern, the same location where General Washington would bade farewell to his officers on December 4, 1783. Present at that first meeting included John Watts, President, as well as Philip Livingston and Gerardus William Beekman. The Governors purchased five acres (a part of the Rutgers farm) in 1771,on elevated ground surrounded at the time on three sides by marshes. This location was several miles from the central part of New York; apparently the expansion of the city and the drainage of the marshes, which harbored malaria, was anticipated.
A building was begun in 1773 but was destroyed by fire before its completion. The Revolutionary War delayed the work of reconstruction but apparently a partial structure on Broadway and Duane street served as a barracks for Hessian and British soldiers, as a laboratory for teaching anatomy to medical students, and as a military hospital.
The Hospital was not opened until January 3, 1791. The small two-storied H-shaped building was located along the west side of Broadway between present day Worth and Duane set back from the street frontage about 90 feet to allow for landscaping and expansion The Hospital’s first patients were suffering from small pox, syphilis and acute bipolar disorder. In 1798, the Governors announced that the Hospital was primarily for the purpose of medical treatment, secondly for surgical treatment and thirdly for treatment of “maniacs” (a fourth listed purpose was for “lying-in” woman, post-partum treatment of women) .