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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Looking Back at St. Vincent's Hospital




Though not at all unexpected, it is still a blow to the Greenwich Village community that St. Vincent’s Hospital has decided to close.

St. Vincent’s has been a fixture in the Village since 1856 (and, if you count the East Village, since its founding in 1849). The hospital was founded by the Sisters of Charity, the order of nuns that had been established in Maryland in 1809 by ex-New Yorker Elizabeth Ann Seton. Their first building was a townhouse on East 13th Street that was lit by gas lamps and had no running water. In 1856, the hospital moved to its present location into a building that had been used by the local parish, St. Joseph’s, as an orphanage (see picture at left).

The modern hospital complex was inaugurated by Archbishop Corrigan with the opening of a building on West 11th Street on May 30, 1899. Other new buildings were soon added on Seventh Avenue and, in 1941, Cardinal Spellman and former governor Alfred E. Smith laid the cornerstone for the expanded pavilion. Placed into that cornerstone was a time capsule that includes coins, copies of the local papers, a history of the hospital, and photo of Cardinal Spellman. With the hospital closing, will the time capsule be unearthed?



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Read more about Elizabeth Ann Seton, Alfred E. Smith, and other famous Catholic New Yorkers in Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City.

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