Bellevue Hospital’s old-school wrought iron sign

When I walk past Bellevue Hospital on First Avenue and 26th Street, I see the Bellevue at the dawn of the 19th century—when the fledgling city began quarantining yellow fever patients on former farmland called Belle Vue far away from the city center along the East River.

I imagine open space, grass and trees, and a bucolic environment to help the sick heal in an era with very little understanding of how diseases spread. I also think of the patients who died and were buried in Bellevue’s former cemetery, located at today’s Madison Square Park.

These wrought-iron gates certainly weren’t part of the hospital grounds back then. I don’t know how old they are, but there’s something very old-school about them, with what look like hand-stenciled cutouts spelling the hospital’s name. Every time I pass them, I think of Bellevue’s ghosts.

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12 Responses to “Bellevue Hospital’s old-school wrought iron sign”

  1. beth Says:

    It terrifies me just to look at it

  2. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    I was in Bellevue 1955 or so getting a cask removed from my broken leg, when the doctor or whatever he was, slashed into my leg (a tiny cut) but I started crying like a wild baby. I’d been to Bellevue a few times after that, no complaints there.

  3. Alice Says:

    I read Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital
    by David Oshinsky when my husband was under going treatment for a serious injury to his hand. So much history about this vital NYC institution.

  4. Rob C Says:

    I think they were actually part of the original complex, only they were bigger and more ornate, and about fifty feet to the left (North) of where they are now. Check out this old pic: https://imgc.artprintimages.com/img/print/front-gates-of-bellevue-hospital_u-l-p744960.jpg?artHeight=900&artPerspective=n&artWidth=900&background=fbfbfb Not sure why they cut their height in half or lost most of the decor but you can match up a lot of the patterns that are still there.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Oh wow, what a wonderful photo. Interesting that they kept the gates but cut them in half and moved them over to the side of the complex. I’m glad they didn’t throw them away, of course.

  5. No Show Says:

    There is another pair of Bellevue’s gates on the south side of Marcus Garvey Park. They are beautiful and haunting as well. https://harlembespoke.blogspot.com/2010/04/walk-marcus-garvey-park-mystery-gates.html

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Oh wow, these BH gates are amazing, thank you for posting! I must get up there and do a more complete post on how Bellevue’s gates ended up at the entrance of a Harlem park!

  6. velovixen Says:

    I can see that gate in the opening scene of a “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” type of movie.

  7. Mark E. Phillips Says:

    It took me years to figure out that the old Bellevue entrance is actually inside the new lobby. I didn’t discover that until I watched the 1950 noir film Side Street which features the hospital. https://nycinfilm.com/2018/01/02/side-street-1950/

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