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«MANHATTAN STATE HOSPITAL. Ward's Island, New York C1ty. Previous to 1825 the insane poor of New York City were cared for either at the Bloomingdale ...»

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In 1892 the City Asylum consisted of four divisions or departments, one each on Blackwell’s, Ward’s and Hart’s islands, and one at Central Islip, L. I., 40 miles distant from New York City, having a total population of 7478 patients. In 1886 Dr. MacDonald, the general superintendent, was appointed by the commissioners executive and administrative officer and each institution was placed

in immediate charge of a local medical superintendent, subordinate to the general superintendent:

Dr. E. C. Dent, the superintendent of the female division, Ward’s Island; Dr. William A. Macy at the male division, Ward’s Island; Dr. H. C. Evarts at the Central Islip division, and Dr. G. A. Smith at the Hart’s Island division.

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The federal government took over the Emigration Department, and in July, 1892, the emigration buildings were taken possession of; most of them were mere barracks in a fearful state of decay.

Several were razed to the ground or burned.

In April, 1894, 2000 patients were brought to Ward’s Island from Blackwell’s Island, which was abandoned as unfit for habitation, and in 1896 Hart’s Island, with its so-called pavilions of hemlock boards, built for the sheltering of soldiers, was abolished and its 1555 patients transferred to Ward’s Island.

By the creation of a State Commission in Lunacy in 1889 and by the enactment of the State Care Law in 1890, patients in county institutions were taken care of by the state.

Through this act the care of the insane passed into the hands of the state. The counties of Monroe, Kings and New York were exempted from its operations, however, until their authorities should desire to transfer to state care. Monroe took advantage of these provisions in 1901 (1891), Kings in 1905, and on the 28th of February, 1896, through legislation, the New York City Asylum for the Insane became the Manhattan State Hospital for the Insane.

In 1900 each of the three departments was made a distinct hospital. The hospital for men became Manhattan State Hospital East, under Dr. A. E. MacDonald; that for women, Manhattan State Hospital West, under Dr. E. C. Dent; and that at Central Islip, the Central Islip State Hospital, under Dr. George A. Smith.

In 1904 Dr. A. E. MacDonald resigned to retire to private life.

June 1, 1905, by legislative action Manhattan East and Manhattan West were consolidated, Dr. E. C.

Dent being made superintendent.

Manhattan is the largest and one of the best psychiatrical hospitals in the world. It is a hospital in the highest sense. Every patient is treated as a sick person. Many of its patients never in their lives enjoyed such comforts as they now do. The food, clothing and medical treatment are equal to those of the best general hospitals. Each patient is supplied with recreation, occupation and diversion in

The Inmates of Willard 1870 to 1900

innumerable forms. Trained nurses and specially selected attendants minister to his smallest needs.

His surroundings are bright and cheerful. Pictures, carpets, musical instruments and unlimited reading matter divert and soothe him. His likes and dislikes receive sympathetic consideration. He is nursed and made to feel that he is receiving the care and treatment of a sick man.

Manhattan suffers from a constant overcrowding of from 25 to 30 per cent. In psychiatry it is in the front rank. The State Pathological Institute, with Dr. August Hoch as medical director, is in intimate relationship with the hospital, and splendid research work is being done there. Two of its wards have physicians of the institute assigned to them, where the large amount of clinical material enables advanced work to be done. A former associate of the institute has charge of staff meetings and clinical instruction. Autopsical and laboratory work and weekly demonstrations are directed by an appointed specialist. The patients are given the benefit of gynecological and general surgery by New York specialists. A visiting ophthalmologist, aurist and dentist render relief in those fields. Epilepsy, gastro-intestinal diseases and the spinal fluid have all been objects of research. Hydrotherapy and electrotheraphy have been of the greatest benefit in select cases. The clinical work is equal to that of the best hospitals in the country.

Women attendants do duty in the acute and hospital men’s wards. Convalescent patients are given a long parole to their friends, and many others enjoy the fullest freedom of the island. Patients are admitted here from their homes by “emergency” commitment or by voluntary admission, thus securing prompt hospital care and treatment without delay. Its admissions are in excess of 1700 each year. Hospital treatment is given from the hour of the patient’s arrival. The most cheerful environment, liberal diet and congenial employment bring about rapid recoveries. It has a patient’s library of 3000 volumes, a daily supply of newspapers, its own industries, diversions, gardens, steamers, marine excursions and ferries, and on some visiting days there are fully 900 visitors. The insane of New York City are fortunate in having this magnificent hospital, which will stand in the future as an object lesson and as an example of a well-managed benevolent institution and medical charity in the community in which it is located.

The Manhattan State Hospital on Ward’s Island now cares for 4800 patients; has a staff of 30 physicians and 800 employees. Its real estate and personal property are valued at $4,800,000.

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Hart’s Island - Superintendents.

(First opened for 50 patients, January 23, 1877.) Dr. Armand Duploo 1877-1878; Dr. Andrew Egan 1883-1891; Dr. T. M. Franklin 1878-1879; Dr.

George A. Smith 1892-1893; Dr. James R. Healy 1880-1882 Ward’s Island - Department For Men.

W. A Macy, M. D 1886-1897; Geo. F. M. Bond, M. D., acting med. supt 1890; Percy Bryant, M. D.


Dr. Alexander Trautman, superintendent of the State Emigrant Hospital 1880-1881.

Richard M. Lush, warden-in-charge 1872-1873.

Dr. Alexander E. MacDonald 1874-1894 (Became general superintendent in 1894, so continuing until the departments for men and women were separated in 1900, when he became superintendent of the men’s division, so continuing until his resignation in 1903.) Dr. E. C. Dent 1904-1906; Dr. Wm. Mabon, supt. and med. director 1906.

Blackwell’s Island - Department For Women.

Moses H. Ranney, M. D. 1857-1864; Ralph L. Parsons, M. D. 1865-1876; W. W. Strew, M. D 1876T. M. Franklin, M. D. 1880-1886; E. C. Dent, M. D. 1887-1895.

(Institution abandoned in 1895.) Ward’s Island—Women's Department.

Dr. E. C. Dent 1896-1906 (In 1906 the departments for men and women were consolidated and Dr. William Mabon became superintendent and medical director.) Central Islip.

Dr. H. C. Evarts, physician-in-charge 1889-1895; Dr. George A. Smith, superintendent 1895.


Dr. J. N. DeHart 1875; Dr. Wickes Washburn 1875; Dr. W. V. Day 1875; Dr. John A. Arnold 1876;

Dr. J. S. Christison 1876 ….

Reprinted from The Institutional Care of the Insane in the United States and Canada, By Henry Mills Hurd, William Francis Drewry, Richard Dewey, Charles Winfield Pilgrim, George Adler Blumer, American MedicoPsychological Association. Committee on a History of the Institutional Care of the Insane, Thomas Joseph Workmann Burgess, Volume 3, The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1916, Pages 201 – 210.


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