The Infirmary’s impressive 19th century facade. Image via Abandoned NYC
When President John Adams signed “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen” in 1798, he authorized a 20 cents per month head-tax imposed on sailors entering the Port of New York. Through this funding, the construction of a Sailor’s Infirmary in New York City was made possible. Abandoned NYC recently visited the site and documented the structure’s stunning 19th century facade as well its harbor-front porches and interior.
Porches that provide expansive view of the harbor. Image via Abandoned NYC
Although Untapped Cities has mentioned this location in previous posts, we respect Abandoned NYC‘s intention to leave out the Infirmary’s actual name and location, in hope of preserving its relative pristine condition.
The hospital’s “one-room laboratory”. Image via Abandoned NYC
The infirmary was also the birthplace of one of the most respected biomedical research facilities in the world, which later became the predecessor agency to the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). In 1887, the institution authorized a young physician trained in the new bacteriological methods to set up a one-room laboratory in the attic of the building. In this “laboratory of hygiene,” he followed the work of European scientists and within a few months, identified the cholera bacteria.
Abandoned medical files in the south wing. Image via Abandoned NYC
The impressive four story brick and concrete structure survived to witness years of change as the medical complex it sits within thrived and declined. Starting with only the Sailor’s Infirmary building in 1837, the campus grew to include a seven-story hospital and multiple ancillary buildings, a few of which were designated as historic landmarks.
Teddy bear wallpaper of a preschool. Image via Abandoned NYC
Over the course of the 20th century, it served military families, veterans, and later the general public. When it was taken over by an organization of the Catholic medical system in 1981, and the hospital also housed psychiatric care and addiction rehabilitation patients.
Storage space in the attic. Image via Abandoned NYC
In recent years, the institute’s financial problems has diminished its services to a few floors of a seven-story main building on site, abandoning the rest of the complex, including the Sailor’s Infirmary. Inside the building, a few dental clinics and early childhood programs lingered into the early 2000s but did not survive the financial impasse.
Next, check out 10 of NYC’s Abandoned Hospitals and Asylums