On December 29, 1887, opening ceremonies were held for New York City’s newest medical wonder, the Sloane Maternity Hospital. Established with a generous gift from William and Emily Thorn Vanderbilt Sloane, the building cost slightly over $156,000 to build and equip. The couple were emulating an earlier gift by Emily’s father, William Henry Vanderbilt, who in 1885 had given to the College of Physicians & Surgeons (P&S) $300,000 and most of the block lying between 59th & 60th Streets, Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, on which to build a new home. At the time, it was the largest gift ever made to a medical school. Sloane Maternity Hospital was constructed on the same campus at the corner of 59th Street and Amsterdam and was put under the control of the medical school faculty. Besides providing low-cost obstetrical care to indigent women, Sloane also provided P&S students with important clinical experience.
The hospital was an immediate success: confinements rose from 241 in 1888 to 912 in 1894. Expansions in 1899 and 1911 — both funded by the Sloanes — increased the hospital’s capacity from a mere 33 beds in 1888 to 173 in 1911 along with 100 cribs for newborns. A gynecology service was added in 1910 leading to the hospital’s name being changed to Sloane Hospital for Women.
P&S retained control of Sloane until 1925 when it was turned over to Presbyterian Hospital in anticipation of the 1928 move to the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in Washington Heights.
To this day, however, the obstetrics & gynecology service at what is now New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center is called “Sloane Hospital” in commemoration of its origins.
For those curious to know more about the history of Sloane Hospital we recommend reading Harold Speert’s The Sloane Hospital Chronicle (1st ed. 1963; 2nd ed. 1988) available in the Health Sciences Library. Find it in CLIO, the library’s online catalog.
Image: Sloane Hospital about 1900 after the major expansion of 1899; the College of Physicians & Surgeons is to the right.