Posts Tagged ‘New-York Cancer Hospital’

A West Side hospital meant to look like a castle

August 3, 2020

When the cornerstone of the New-York Cancer Hospital—at 106th Street and Central Park West—was unveiled in an 1884 ceremony attended by wealthy benefactors like John Jacob Astor III, “cancer was still a disease synonymous with shame, believed to be as contagious as syphilis,” wrote the New York Times in 1984.

By the time the hospital began treating its first patients in 1887, former president and city resident Ulysses S. Grant had lost his very public battle with throat cancer, and the mystery surrounding the disease gripped New Yorkers.

An illness as feared as cancer deserved a building that would inspire and uplift.

That might be one reason architect Charles C. Haight chose to model the new facility—a Gothic red-brick collection of five round towers with cathedral-like windows—on a Renaissance chateau in France’s Loire Valley called Le Lude (at left).

Sure, there’s a resemblance. Yet the Renaissance design was about more than aesthetics.

Haight designed the circular hospital buildings in part because “it was thought that the shape prevented air stagnation and the accumulation of dirt and germs in corners,” states Guide to New York City Landmarks. With so much not known about how cancer forms and spreads, germ control was definitely something to consider.

New York Cancer Hospital (above, in 1916) wasn’t the only circular hospital of the era. The former Gouverneur Hospital, on Water Street, also features two sphere-like towers.

This 1901 facility ended up with spherical shapes because “it was believed that tuberculosis bacilli hid in corners, so the shape was an early attempt at preventive medicine,” according to a 1993 New York Times article.

New-York Cancer Hospital has long sense decamped Central Park West; it evolved into today’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Today the chateau-like building is a condo residence. I don’t know what it’s like inside, but the exterior is spectacular.

[First image: NYPL; third image: MCNY X2010.7.1.5196; fourth image: Wikipedia]

Defunct city hospitals turned into homes

July 13, 2010

If St. Vincent’s Medical Center really does get made over into apartments, it won’t be the first time a city hospital was turned into residences.

That’s what happened to the old French Hospital, on 30th Street beween Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

Built in 1928 by the Societe Francaise de Bienfaisance, it replaced the original French Hospital on West 14th Street, then the city’s French section.

The hospital closed in the 1960s, and in 1981 became rentals. Section 8 rentals, according to the management company website.

But hey, how cool is it to live beside a door that says “clinic entrance?”

Probably not as cool as living in the former New-York Cancer Hospital, on Central Park West and 106th Street.

King’s Handbook of New York, published in 1892, says the hospital “. . . was founded in 1884, for the treatment of all sufferers from cancer, whose condition promises any hope of cure of relief.”

Those circular wards are lovely, but they had a medical purpose: Without room corners, doctors believed that there would be fewer germs hanging around making cancer patients sick.

The hospital, which eventually became Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, moved out in the 1930s. It sat vacant for decades before becoming luxury co-ops a few years ago.

Interested in a 5-bedroom home? Check out this Corcoran listing.