Posts Tagged ‘Victorian-era institutions New York City’

The old folks’ homes of the 19th century city

March 1, 2012

They weren’t called assisted living centers or nursing homes then.

Instead, the Victorian institutions built to house elderly New Yorkers had names that didn’t sugarcoat their purpose.

This one at left, on Amsterdam Avenue and 103rd Street, was the “Association for the Relief of Respectable Aged Indigent Females.”

Here, “decayed gentlewomen find a pleasant and congenial home, as their faces turn toward the setting sun, ” explains King’s Handbook of New York, published in 1892.

“Any gentlewoman over sixty years of age is admitted on payment of $200 and the surrender of any property she may possess.”

The building still stands and now serves as a youth hostel.

The Home for the Aged of the Little Sisters of the Poor, above, stood at 135th West 106th Street; a second home run by this order was at 207 East 70th Street.

Men and women of any faith were welcome, so long as they were “over 60 years old and destitute,” states King’s. “The two homes give gratuitous care to nearly 500 inmates.”

This Addams Family–like building at left was the Chapin Home for the Aged and Infirm, at 151 East 66th Street. The rules were stricter.

“An applicant must be over 65 years old, and must pay an admission fee of $300, a physician’s examination fee of $5, and a burial fee of $50,” explains King’s. [Photo: NYPL digital collection]

Check out this gorgeous structure at 207-215 West 15th Street, formerly St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged. King’s tells us “it is entirely for the comfort of aged women.”