Posts Tagged ‘Gouverneur Hospital’

Secret signage of defunct New York hospitals

April 8, 2013

GouverneurhospitalFDRdriveEver found yourself on the FDR Drive near the South Street Seaport staring at this kind of spooky structure?

It’s set amid 1970s-era apartment buildings and housing projects, making its rounded wings and red brick exterior stand out considerably.

There’s an interesting history behind it. This is the back of Gouverneur Hospital, founded in the late 19th century to serve the crowded immigrant communities of the Lower East Side.

This particular building was constructed in 1897, and it’s marked by a lovely terra cotta sign and ornate carved front entrance at 621 Water Street.


As for its curious rounded design, it served a health purpose. “[It] was believed that tuberculosis bacilli hid in corners, so the shape was an early attempt at preventive medicine,” explains this New York Times piece.

Gouverneur Hospital still exists in a more modern facility nearby on Madison Street. The 1897 building, though, now provides housing for New Yorkers living with HIV and mental illness.


I love the lettering on this sign for Union Hospital of the Bronx, opened here in 1922. It’s not easy to see beneath the contemporary signage for Union Community Health Care, a facility that took over this space on 188th Street in the Bronx.

Here are a few more old city hospitals that have been repurposed into—what else?—high-end apartments.

When heat waves cut down city residents

July 7, 2010

New York is no stranger to brutal heat waves. But thanks to air conditioning, newspapers no longer have to print a daily list of “heat prostrations,” which included dozens of citizens overcome by hot weather.

A check of The New York Times archive drew story after story on a specific heat spell, plus a list of people felled by heatstroke.

[“On the Docks After a Hot Day,” an 1868 illustration from the NYPL]

An article about an 89-degree day in June 1899 listed these casualties: 

“Isaac Shapiro, fifty-eight years old, of 292 Division Street, was overcome in front of his home. He was removed to Gouverneur Hospital.

“James O’Mara, twenty years old, living in a lodging house at Broome Street and the Bowery, was driving a truck at 117 Spring Street when he was overcome by the heat. He was removed to St. Vincent’s Hospital.

“An unknown woman, poorly dressed and about sixty years old, was found unconscious last night at Locust Avenue and  133rd Street by Policeman McGrath of the East 138th Street Station. The woman seemed to have been overcome by heat. She was taken to Harlem Hospital.”