The only major hospital in the Washington Heights and Inwood communities is the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. The center is bounded by 165th Street, 168th Street, Broadway and Riverside Drive. This hospital was originally known as the Presbyterian Hospital and was located on Park Avenue between 70th and 71st Streets and was founded in 1868 by philanthropist James Lenox.
In 1911 the Hospital entered into an agreement with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, which was located on Tenth Avenue and West 59th Street. This was done to coordinate the care of the sick with the education and research programs of the college.
Ten years later, property was purchased in Washington Heights on the site of the former American League ballpark (Hilltop Stadium) that was home to the New York Highlanders, located on 165th and Broadway. The Highlanders played there from 1903 to 1913, when the team was purchased by former congressman and millionaire brewery owner Jacob Ruppert, who renamed the team the New York Yankees.
Adjoining this property was the Billy Sunday Tabernacle. William Ashley (Billy) Sunday (1862-1935) was well known as an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies. His evangelical career started in 1891, and he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1903. Sunday’s Tabernacle was located on 168th and Broadway. It had a seating capacity of 18,000 and cost $68,000 to build.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the medical center were held on January 31, 1925, with the help of philanthropist Edward S. Harkness (1874-1940) who was a major benefactor for the center. Columbia-Presbyterian formally opened its doors and started operational procedures on March 16, 1928. The Harkness Eye Pavilion was named in honor of him.
Within the next few years the Babies Hospital, the Sloane Hospital for Women, and the Neurological Institution moved in. The New York State Psychiatric Hospital also shares space on the property. On 168th and Broadway is a Department of Health building which is now the Milkman School of Public Health used for medical students. The building is being used for both practices.
In 1977, the Julius and Armand Hammer Health Sciences Building was opened. This building contains medical libraries, offices for Medical Center employees and the offices for Community Board 12.
On September 30, 1993, a special ceremony took place on the grounds of the Medical Center. This ceremony marked the 90th anniversary of the American League’s beach head in New York City. One of the persons in attendance was Chester “Red” Hoff who at the time was the oldest living Major League Baseball player at 102 years of age.
Mr. Hoff was a pitcher for the New York Highlanders who, 84 years prior to the ceremony, took to the mound against the Detroit Tigers. Unbeknownst to him, Hoff was facing the legendary hitter Ty Cobb, for the first time. Hoff had struck out Cobb and did not find out who the hitter was until the following day when he read in the New York Journal’s sports headline “Ty Cobb Struck Out.”
Presently the Medical Center is expanding its horizons in the community. A new era in the community is heralded with the construction of new facilities that will increase jobs in the area and provide for modern medical facilities too.
The Millstein Pavilion located on Fort Washington Avenue and 167th Street was opened in 1988 with an additional 745 beds. In Inwood on Broadway and 220th Street is the Allen Pavilion, which was opened to provide health services for Northern Manhattan and the Bronx. The Allen Pavilion is a three-story building with 300 beds designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and is located on an unused section of Baker Field.
The Mary Woodward Lasker Biomedical Research/Audubon Research Park was constructed in 1996. It was the Audubon Ballroom and Theater. In 1965 Black Muslim leader Malcolm X was assassinated at a rally in the second floor ballroom. The Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion was opened later. Both were designed by the architectural firm of Davis Brodie and Bond. The third is the Irving Cancer Research Center. These structures are part of a series of five buildings that the medical center has plans for, for research.
The Children’s Hospital of New York, which opened in 1887, will include the newly designed Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Children’s Hospital of New York. The new facility, which costs $120 million to build, was helped with monies donated by employees of the companies involved. It is scheduled to be completed in late 2003.
In January 1998, Columbia-Presbyterian merged with New York Hospital. The merger also included the Cornell Medical College of New York Hospital and Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons at Presbyterian. This creates one of the largest and most comprehensive health-care facilities in New York City, with 2,170 beds, 12,400 employees, 90,000 patient discharges, 900,000 ambulatory care visits, and 120,000 emergency visits.
The main entrance to Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center is at 622 West 168th Street between Broadway and Fort Washington Avenue. The telephone number is (212) 305-2500. The Allen Pavilion is located at 5141 Broadway near 220th Street and can be reached by telephone at (212) 932-4000. The Children’s Hospital can be reached at 1-800-245-KIDS. The New York Weill Cornell Medical Center is at 525 East 68th Street and can be reached at (212) 746-5454.