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St. Luke's Hospital
This site served the hospital well for nearly 40 years, during which time two new wings were added to enlarge the wards, provide better rooms for staff, and improve the operating room and accident ward. With its capacity of 211 beds, St. Luke's ranked second largest among voluntary hospitals in the city.
Foreseeing the New York's growth northward, St. Luke's purchased 45 city lots between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive, 113th Street to 114th Street, as a new location for the hospital. Planned as a nine-building complex able to accommodate 600 patients, on January 24, 1896 it was opened at first with the Vanderbilt building, followed the next year by the Muhlenberg, Chapel, Norrie, and Minturn pavilions. The Plant, Scrymser, and Travers pavilions were added after the turn of the century.
At the time of St. Luke's move to Morningside Heights, Columbia University and the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine were then under construction and it was thought that this neighborhood would eventually become the "Acropolis" of Manhattan, the home of its greatest institutions of learning, religion and health.
St. Luke's new facility was designed by the architect Ernest Flagg and was patterned after the Luxembourg Palace in Paris, consisting of a collection of semi-detached buildings, connected by passages in such a way as to present an external appearance of unity. Its interior was exceedingly plain "as is proper in a place where...war is to be waged upon the whole tribe of germs." The wards were arranged so that sun could freely enter windows on three sides during different times of the day and to promote a natural cross ventilation. The chapel -- at the head of a short flight of marble steps at the 113th Street entrance -- was the dominating architectural feature, in keeping with its founding as a church hospital.
In 1952, Woman's Hospital -- the first institution in this country to be devoted exclusively to the service of women -- was incorporated under St. Luke's Hospital as the Woman's Division. The Woman's Hospital was founded in 1855 by James Marion Sims, MD, the father of modern gynecology, beginning as a 40-bed charity hospital at Madison Avenue and 29th Street. With the addition of Woman's Hospital, St. Luke's Hospital became St. Luke's Hospital Center.
The Roosevelt Hospital
Two years later, on November 2, 1871, The Roosevelt Hospital opened, hailed by the press as the "finest institution of its kind in the country, if not in the world." Not yet complete at its opening, the hospital consisted of a main four-story brick building with gray stone trim, porte-cochere driveway and high-steepled tower, and a five-story brick ward building. A wide stairwell ascending to the top floor rose from the entrance hall of the main building. The operating theater was located at the rear of the second floor corridor. Seven large rooms on the third floor of the main building accommodated private patients; the ward buildings had room for about 180 patients. Each ward had 14 beds arranged on either side, with the nurse's desk in the middle. They were high-ceilinged, light and airy and had hot and cold water, hot air heating, and gas lighting. Six years after it opened, the hospital erected an shed and stable for the horse that pulled the ambulance.
As services began to grow, the hospital's structures were demolished and rebuilt accordingly. In 1885, a one-story outpatient clinic opened; 1890 saw the opening of an operating room specifically for gynecological procedures; and in 1892, the acclaimed Syms operating room theater opened. The Syms building featured a marble-walled entrance hall and a skylit amphitheater with seating for 185 observers, and its exterior is today landmarked.
A 108-room nurses residence was added to Roosevelt Hospital in 1911. A six-story private patients' pavilion opened in 1942; a two-story surgical pavilion, with a much-enlarged emergency department, in 1949; and the nine-story Tower building in 1953, which housed the admission and patient registration functions, and clinic facilities including a physiotherapy department, pediatrics, and psychiatry.
By this time, only the administration building and its annex remained from the original hospital. A modest tablet in its lobby read, "To the memory of James Henry Roosevelt, true son of New York, the generous founder of this hospital, a man upright in his aims, simple in his life, and sublime in his benefaction."
Copyright © 2006