Name and location of repository
Level of description
Doctors Hospital records
- 1927 - 1994 (Creation)
Name of creator
Doctors Hospital was a voluntary hospital on the Upper East Side of New York City which catered to affluent private patients. It was located at 170 East End Avenue between 87th and 88th Streets, overlooking Carl Schurz Park and Gracie Mansion.
The hospital was founded in the late 1920s by a group of socially prominent doctors and investors to meet the growing demand for private hospital rooms. Hospitals, by this time, had replaced the home as the primary site of medical treatment for patients of all social classes, but New York City's hospitals had a limited supply of rooms for affluent patients who did not want to be housed on public wards.
The cornerstone of the hospital building was laid on April 30, 1929, and the hospital opened to patients on February 19, 1930. On its opening, the fourteen-story building contained 264 private rooms, with an additional 32 hotel-like rooms in which patients' relatives could stay during treatment. It had no wards. Nicknamed the “hotel hospital"" for its lavish interiors, its rooms were decorated in an early American style and included conveniences such as private iceboxes, which aimed at replicating the comforts of home for its wealthy patients. The founding medical staff of the hospital consisted of 182 doctors and surgeons.
The hospital was founded as a for-profit corporation and was expected to yield a return for its shareholders. In 1932, however, the shares of the hospital were turned over to a charitable foundation and the hospital was reorganized as a voluntary institution. Many believed this decision to have been motivated primarily by tax purposes. In 1941 the city brought a suit against the hospital for payment of back taxes, arguing that because it catered to private patients and did not offer charity care, it was not entitled to the hospital property tax exemption. The State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the city, but the ruling was overturned by the Appellate Division in 1944, which held that the exemption applied equally to all voluntary hospitals regardless of their patient demographics. Throughout the middle decades of the twentieth century the hospital continued to serve New York's social elite as a place for medical treatment in a genteel private setting.