James Renner

 Washington Heights and Inwood have a variety of hospitals and institutions that have served the communities over the years. Some of which have left their mark on the lives of people while others have not.

 Inwood Hill Park was home to two of these organizations. The House of Mercy bought land in 1888 and moved in two years later.  It was run as an Episcopal girls home for the benefit and education of girls committed to its care.  The House of Mercy closed its doors in the 1930ís. Jewish Memorial Hospital got its start as the Inwood House of the Redeemer Run by the Magdalene Benevolent Society and was in the park until 1933.  In 1936 it moved to Broadway where it operated until 1983 when it was forced to close its doors because of financial difficulties. The building was torn down to make way for Intermediate School 218, which had been completed, in the early 1990ís.

 The New York Juvenile Asylum was located on 176th and Audubon Avenue and was founded in 1851 by the Childrenís Aid Society under a legislative act.  It sheltered young children for as long as five years before placing them with families.  The Asylum has a plot at Trinity Cemetery on 155th Street and Broadway dating to 1873.  The asylum had been linked to the New York Foundling Hospital.  It was also involved with the Orphan Trains, which sent orphans to families in 45 states here in America and also sent children to Canada and Mexico to be adopted.  In 1901 a 277-acre farm was purchased in Dobbsí Ferry, New York and was renamed The Childrenís Village.

 Fort Washington Avenue at 163rd Street was the location of three institutions of note. The first was the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, which was founded in 1817.  The building that it operated from opened in 1834 and closed in the late 1920ís to relocate to Valhalla, New York.  In 1948 Delafield Hospital opened as a cancer research center for Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.  It was named for Francis Delafield (1841-1915) a graduate of Physicians and Surgeons in 1863 and became a professor of pathology at Columbia.  The hospital closed its doors in 1979 and the building lay dormant until May 16, 1985 when the Fort Washington Houses for the Elderly opened for senior citizens.  Nearby, on Fort Washington Avenue and 166th Street, was the Institute for the Blind, which had also closed in the 1920ís.

 The Saint Lawrence Hospital on Edgecombe Avenue and 163rd Street was taken over by Mother Cabriniís Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1920.  In 1958 the hospital was renamed Mother Cabrini Memorial Hospital.  The Hospital closed and was sold to become a minimum-security prison called the Edgecombe Correctional Facility.

 Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, located between 165th Street and 168th Street from Broadway to Riverside Drive, is the only major hospital in Washington Heights and Inwood. The property was originally purchased in 1921 when the Presbyterian Hospital, originally located at 71st Street and Park Avenue, had plans for building the complex in conjunction with the College of Physicians and Surgeons located at Tenth Avenue and West 59th Street.

 Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Medical Center were held on January 31, 1925.  The hospital formally started its operations on March 16, 1928.  By the end of the year the Babies Hospital had moved from 56th Street and Lexington Avenue to its present quarters.  The Neurological Institute move in the following year.

 In 1977 the Julius and Armand Hammer Health Sciences Building opened. This contains medical libraries, offices for the Medical Center employees, the offices for Community Board 12 and Arts Interactionís Hinter Steiner Gallery, the Washington Heights and Inwood Council for the Arts.  A new era was heralded for the Medical Center in 1988.  The Millstein Building on Fort Washington Avenue was opened.  The Allen Pavilion was opened on Broadway and 220th Street was opened to help provide for extra medical services for northern Manhattan and the Bronx.

 The Wadsworth Hospital located on Wasworth Avenue and 185th Street served the community from the 1920ís to the 1960ís.  It was taken over and made into a clinic.

 The Isabella Geriatric Center is located on Amsterdam Avenue and 190th Street and has been a haven for the elderly for over 100 years.  The Center was established in 1875 as the Isabella Heimat Home for the Aging.  The home was named for the founderís daughter who came from a German immigrant family that died at the age of 27.

 The original building was erected and opened in 1889 and was razed in 1969 to make room for the expansion of the homeís facilities.  It is a non-sectarian, non-profit organization that helps the elderly with housing and health care.

 With the health care problems of Washington Heights and Inwood constantly changing and expanding, the needs of the community are feeling the pinch of higher and higher costs for more facilities and less services provided. 


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