New York’s first floating hospital

Here’s the “Emma Abbott,” painted by Julian O. Davidson. He depicts the city’s first floating hospital, launched in 1875 by a charitable organization composed of well-to-do New Yorkers called the St. John’s Guild. The ship sailed the harbors and rivers, taking care of slum kids and mothers too poor to afford decent medical care.

Emma Abbott was an opera star at the time who donated the money to help build the vessel.


Thousands of women and children were treated there until about 1900, when the Emma Abbott was retired. Subsequent floating hospitals continue to treat New York’s most vulnerable.

This painting belongs to the Museum of the City of New York.

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One Response to “New York’s first floating hospital”

  1. Boston’s Floating Hospital « Looking Backward Says:

    […] had a model in the nation’s first floating hospital, the Emma Abbott, launched from New York City in 1875.  Tobey’s original two-deck boat had permanent wards on […]

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