An Essential Timeline

Follow the distinguished history of excellence and innovation in the field of medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian.


NewYork-Presbyterian has a long and distinguished history of excellence and innovation in the field of medicine. Along with its academic medical partners, Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian has made numerous contributions to patient care since the founding of New York Hospital in 1771 and The Presbyterian Hospital in 1868


The New York Hospital is founded by a royal charter from King George III of England. Twenty years later, the hospital receives its first patients.


The New York Hospital cares for more than 3,000 American soldiers who were wounded while fighting in the Revolutionary War. For the next two centuries, NewYork-Presbyterian continues to treat ill or wounded troops, including those who served in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.


Family physician, Columbia medical school professor, and New York Hospital attending physician Dr. David Hosack accompanies Alexander Hamilton to his fatal duel with Aaron Burr.


The Bloomingdale Asylum for psychiatric care opens in Morningside Heights. The New York Hospital had opened an asylum, adjacent to the hospital, in 1808, but moved to more tranquil surroundings, overlooking the Hudson River, at Broadway and 116th Street. It is the country’s second behavioral health facility and the first in New York City.


After being rejected by more than 12 medical schools, Elizabeth Blackwell is admitted to Geneva (now Hobart) Medical School in upstate New York, where she graduates at the top of her class and becomes the first woman to earn a medical degree in the U.S. She later founds the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, which is now NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital.


The Presbyterian Hospital is founded by James Lenox.


At the former Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Lewis Stimson performs the first public operation in the U.S. demonstrating the “Lister method” of antiseptic — a leg removal in front of more than 50 people. Afterward, the patient is observed around the clock for infection, but it never arrives. Stimson had applied an antiseptic (a carbolic acid solution) on the sponges, instruments, sutures and wound during the procedure.


An old brewery, tenement house, and saloon purchased for $1,800 is transformed into the 10-bed The Helping Hands Hospital. Rapid patient growth forces the hospital to move to a Revolutionary-era house, then into a proper home in 1966, when it is renamed Hudson Valley Hospital Center. Today, it is NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital.


Known as the American Florence Nightingale, Anna Caroline Maxwell is named director of the School of Nursing at the former Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. The rigorous standards she pioneers over the next 30 years become the hallmark of nursing education around the world.


Cornell University Medical College is established on First Avenue between 27th and 28th streets. Ten years later, it becomes one of the first in the country to require a college degree as a prerequisite to admission. Today, it is known as one of the world’s preeminent institutions and consistently ranks on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best medical schools in the United States.


After his son Dudley, suffering from appendicitis, almost died on the train ride from Westchester to New York City to seek medical attention, real-estate magnate William Van Duzer Lawrence bought land and donated the money to build Bronxville’s first community hospital, Lawrence Hospital Center, now NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital.


The Presbyterian Hospital and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons sign an affiliation agreement to create a “Medical Center.” Presbyterian trustee and prominent philanthropist Edward S. Harkness donates $1 million to facilitate the agreement. Two years later, New York Hospital and Cornell University Medical College establish an affiliation agreement.


Dr. Russell Hibbs performs the first human spinal fusion operation, at the New York Orthopedic Dispensary and Hospital — now part of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. In 1914, he uses his technique to treat scoliosis. Previously, there was no medical procedure that could realign the spine of someone with scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine.


Dr. Robert Cooke, of New York Hospital, creates one of the country’s first clinics for the study and treatment of allergies.


Cornell University Medical College (now Weill Cornell Medical College) and New York Hospital sign an agreement leading to the formation of the Medical Center, which opened five years later. Payne Whitney donates $40 million to expand NYH, and the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic is named in his honor.


The Presbyterian Hospital moves to 168th Street. Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center opens. It is the first such center to combine teaching, research, and patient care.


Dr. Hattie Elizabeth Alexander develops the first treatment for bacterial meningitis at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. The first test subjects on which she adapted her technique? Rabbits.


Nicknamed the “Father of the Blood Bank,” Dr. Charles Drew, the first African-American resident in surgery at the former Presbyterian Hospital, invents a technique for long-term plasma storage, which becomes the modern-day blood bank.


Dr. George N. Papanicolaou, a pathologist at New York Hospital and an associate professor of anatomy at Weill Cornell Medicine, invents a diagnostic test known as the Papanicolaou (“Pap”) smear to detect the early stages of cervical cancer. As a result, the number of cervical cancer deaths in the U.S. declines dramatically.


Dr. Virginia Apgar, a graduate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, publishes the Apgar Score. When named director of anesthesiology in 1938, Dr. Apgar is the first female physician in the country to hold such a position. She later becomes the first woman at Columbia to be named a full professor.


Dr. Joseph Artusio, who had developed anesthetic methods for heart surgery and one of the first muscle relaxant reversal agents, teams with Dr. Frank Glenn to develop ether analgesia, an anesthetic technology that allows a patient to be conscious without feeling pain or having memory of the surgery.


Professor Vincent du Vigneaud, chair of the department of biochemistry at Weill Cornell Medicine, is awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on the hormone oxytocin.


Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center professors of medicine Drs. André F. Cournand and Dickinson W. Richards are awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for their groundbreaking work on cardiac catheterization.


A son of Haitian immigrants, Alvin Poussaint spent three months in the hospital with rheumatic fever as a child. The experience inspires him to enter Cornell Medical School in 1956, where he is the sole black person in his class. He goes on to become a nationally recognized child and adolescent psychiatrist.


When the Great Depression left Muriel Carbery with few employment options, she devotes herself to nursing and receives her degree from New York Hospital School of Nursing in 1937. Twenty-one years later, she becomes the first alumna appointed dean of the Cornell University-New York Hospital School of Nursing.


Dr. Connie Guion once infamously told an elementary school teacher: “I don’t want to be a lady. I want to be a doctor.” Fittingly, Dr. Guion spent 50 years revolutionizing outpatient care in New York City and becomes the first living female physician to have a hospital building named for her — the former New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center outpatient center.


Dr. Albert Rubin performs the first kidney transplant in the metropolitan area. Today, more than 5,000 lives have been saved through the kidney transplant program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in cooperation with its medical partner, The Rogosin Institute.


The Food and Drug Administration approves Rho(D) immune globulin (RhoGAM), a newborn-saving vaccine developed by Dr. John G. Gorman, blood bank director at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, in collaboration with Dr. Vincent Freda, a NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia obstetrician, and William Pollack of Ortho Pharmaceutical Co. It has saved hundreds of thousands of babies in the U.S. alone. The vaccine, given to pregnant women who are Rh negative, prevents Rh disease, in which there is an incompatibility between a mother’s blood type and her baby’s. Before the vaccine was developed, Rh disease was one of the most severe and devastating conditions for newborns, leading to miscarriage, severe brain damage, or death for the newborn. Prior to the vaccine, the disease claimed the lives of 10,000 babies a year in the United States. RhoGAM is still in use today.


The William Randolph Hearst Burn Center opens at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. It is the first full-service burn center in New York City. Its innovative programs go on to treat more than 5,300 patients every year — more than four times as many as the average U.S. burn unit.


AIDS biomedical research begins at Weill Cornell Medicine. The Center for Special Studies and AIDS Clinical Trials, directed by Dr. Jonathan Jacobs, is established in 1986.


The first successful heart transplant in a child is performed at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, one of the largest centers for transplants for all organs. Because the heart is so small for the 4-year-old child, the surgeons wear magnifying eyeglasses during the 5½-hour procedure. NewYork-Presbyterian today has one of the largest and most comprehensive transplant programs in the country.


The New York Hospital announces its merger with The Presbyterian Hospital, creating NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. At the time, the two world-class academic health care institutions combine to create the largest and most comprehensive hospital in New York, with over 13,000 employees and 2,200 patient beds. Today, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital comprises seven campuses, with more than 47,000 employees and affiliated physicians and 4,000 beds.


NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is named U.S. News & World Report’s top hospital in New York. The hospital is currently ranked #4 in the nation and has been the top-ranked hospital in New York for 20 years in a row.


Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons faculty member Dr. Eric Kandel wins the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on the molecular basis of memory.


The Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, at Broadway and West 165th Street, opens. The campus was built with $120 million, $80 million of which was donated by the Morgan Stanley corporation and its employees. Morgan Stanley also contributed a lead gift for a new adult emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.


Dr. Richard Axel of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and his post-graduate student Linda Buck receive a Nobel Prize for their groundbreaking research on the human sense of smell and how humans distinguish between thousands of different smells.


The state-of-the-art Vivian and Seymour Milstein Family Heart Center opens at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. The six-level facility, made possible by a $50 million gift from the Vivian and Seymour Milstein family foundations, offers comprehensive heart care services from NewYork-Presbyterian’s world-renowned physicians, making it one of the world’s top cardiac care centers.


NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Lawrence Hospital Center establish a new relationship aimed at improving care for patients in Westchester. Lawrence Hospital Center is renamed NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital. It marks the official beginning of a new overall regional strategy for the organization. NewYork-Presbyterian has since expanded its presence in Hudson Valley, Queens, and Brooklyn.


NewYork-Presbyterian breaks ground on The David H. Koch Center across the street from the hospital’s Upper East Side location on York Avenue. Supported by a $100 million gift from David Koch, the largest in the hospital’s history, the 750,000-square-foot, world-class ambulatory healthcare facility and outpatient center offers personalized, integrated care in a technologically sophisticated environment.


NewYork-Presbyterian firmly establishes itself as an integrated academic health care delivery network, comprising four divisions: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is ranked No. 1 in the New York metropolitan area and No. 6 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report; NewYork-Presbyterian Regional Hospital Network comprises leading hospitals in the New York metro area; NewYork-Presbyterian Physician Services connects medical experts with patients in their communities; and NewYork-Presbyterian Community and Population Health include ambulatory care network sites, community care initiatives, and health care quality programs.


NewYork-Presbyterian, in collaboration with Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medicine, and NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem, is awarded a grant from the NIH for approximately $4 million to enroll participants in the Cohort Program of President Barack Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) — a large-scale research effort to improve our ability to prevent and treat disease based on individual differences in lifestyle, environment, and genetics. The institutions are selected in part for their diverse patient population and cutting-edge precision medicine capabilities.


NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center celebrates 60 years of open heart surgery. In 1956, Dr. George Humphreys performed the institution’s first open heart operation on a child with a congenital heart defect. Today, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center performs more than 2,200 open heart surgeries annually and has performed tens of thousands of such procedures since the program’s inception.


The NewYork-Presbyterian David H. Koch Center opens at the NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center campus on York Avenue and 68th Street. This world-class ambulatory care center combines innovative clinical approaches and cutting-edge technology to provide exceptional care and a seamless patient experience. For patients, it serves as a one-stop destination for individualized, coordinated care from diagnosis to treatment. The approximately 740,000-square-foot facility is home to a wide range of ambulatory care services, including outpatient surgery, interventional radiology, diagnostic imaging, and infusion services, as well as an Integrative Health and Wellbeing program. The project was made possible by a $100 million gift from NewYork-Presbyterian Trustee David H. Koch.

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