150th Anniversary History
The Civil War era saw a major change in American medicine. In the middle 19th century, the practice of medicine began emerging from the Dark Ages to one based on scientific principles and procedures that had been pioneered in Europe. In 1860 Florence Nightingale established the first school of nursing in the world at St. Thomas Hospital in London, England. It was just two years after the end of the Civil War, in 1867, that Joseph Lister of Glasgow published his germ theory of disease.
One of the most significant advances in the history of medical science was yet to come—the discovery of X-rays in Germany by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895. Just four years later, a small, 200-bed orthopaedic hospital on East 42nd Street in New York City installed its first X-ray machine, enabling its physicians to peer inside their patients without the need for a surgical scalpel. That hospital, which had planted its roots during the time of the Civil War, would grow to become Hospital for Special Surgery, which in 2013 is the oldest orthopaedic hospital in the nation.
Surprisingly, the original name of the hospital—The Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled—was better recognized by New York’s citizens in the early 1900s, just five decades after its founding in 1863, than when its name changed in 1940 to the Hospital for Special Surgery. A century ago, many hospitals were named for conditions or the diseases of its patients, such as hospitals for unwed mothers, for the insane, for incurables, even for cancer—an even-more dreaded word in those days. So it wasn’t unusual for years afterward for people to still call this early center of orthopaedics “Ruptured and Crippled” (shortened to “R and C”). These and other intriguing facts fill the pages of Anatomy of a Hospital, which outlines the birth and growth of New York’s 150-year-old Hospital for Special Surgery. Learn about its modest beginnings in the middle of the Civil War, in the home of its founder, James Knight, MD—just six weeks before the 1863 draft riot of New York City—and track its rise on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to become the nation’s leading provider of orthopaedic care.
Anatomy of a Hospital is organized in three parts. Part I chronicles the hospital’s 150-year development in 14 chapters, written by the editor-in-chief, David B. Levine. Part II consists of five chapters written by department chiefs or senior staff, delving into the history of the major supporting hospital departments. Part III, the last, consists of chapters authored individually by Louis A. Shapiro and Thomas P. Sculco, MD, president and chief executive officer and surgeon-in-chief, respectively, of Hospital for Special Surgery.
As New York City expanded to become a world financial, cultural, and social force over the past 150 years, Hospital for Special Surgery has blossomed into an international leader in musculoskeletal treatment, research, and education. This story details the challenges and successes of that amazing journey.