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St. Luke's Hospital Moves to Morningside Heights

Morningside Park with St. Luke's Hospital, New York

Figure 6

St. Luke's Hospital and Morningside Park, Postcard. 1909 

Chapel in St. Luke's Hospital, New York City

Figure 7

Chapel in St. Luke's Hospital 

St. Luke's Hospital

Figure 8

St. Luke's Hospital, Photograph. 2015

In 1896, St. Luke’s Hospital moved to Amsterdam Avenue and 113th Street during a time of great expansion of the neighborhood that would become known as Morningside Heights. St. Luke's Hospital relocated at a time that Columbia College and Teachers College planned for campuses uptown. It was the first hospital in Morningside Heights. [Fig. 6]

The move uptown provided the hospital with ample space for growth as its midtown neighborhood was rapidly changing. It also provided opportunity for the building of a modern medical facility. The design competition attracted many architects intent on harmonizing with The Cathedral of St John the Divine which sits just to the south of the planned location for the hospital. The commission went to Ernest Flagg, a young architect with strong connections to Cornelius Vanderbilt II, chair of the hospital's executive committee. Flagg submitted an exceptional design plan calling for beautiful structures not all together in harmony with the cathedral. The plan called for a complex of pavilions each with its own purpose ranging from administrative offices to patient housing. The end result was a beautiful institutional structure. There would be later additions in 1906 and 1933. [1]

The move to Morningside Heights placed St. Luke's in a progressive neighborhood with Columbia University across the street to the west and The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine occupying the site to the south. Columbia University built a campus on the site of what was the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum and The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, in addition to plans to design a grand cathedral, would purchase the Greek Revival building owned by the Leake and Watts Orphanage (this building survives today).  

St. Luke’s Hospital experienced growth and necessary expansion throughout the twentieth century. The hospital had many collaborations including Roosevelt Hospital which, at the request of the U.S. Army in January 1942 would plan a field hospital. Known as the Second Evacuation Hospital, this 750 bed hospital was deployed five miles from Omaha Beach in Normandy on June 17, 1944.

St. Luke's supported affiliations with the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and a formal merger with Women’s Hospital in 1965. Throughout the 1970s, it responded to the changing needs of the community by expanding its clinic programs and its emergency room facilities. It also became well-known for its research and for such medical innovations as the first open-heart surgery in New York City. The hospital merged with Roosevelt Hospital in 1979 to form St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. At the time of the merger, these hospitals were two of the largest and oldest in New York City. [2] 

In 2013, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital merged with Mt. Sinai Hospital creating the largest hospital network in New York City.  The merger brings together Mount Sinai, Beth Israel Medical Center, Roosevelt Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, and the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. The hospitals are dispersed geographically from Harlem to Morningside Heights, Hell’s Kitchen to the East Village. This new network is massive with more than 6,000 physicians, 2,000 residents, more than 3,500 hospital beds and 138 operating rooms. [3]



1. For a detailed discussion on the history of the architecture, see Dolkart, Andrew. Morningside Heights A History of Its Architecture and Development. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001, Chapter Three, "Building for the Body: St. Luke's Hospital and Other Health-Related Facilities on Morningside Heights," pp. 85 - 102. 

2. Jackson, Kenneth. Editor. Encyclopedia of New York City. Yale University Press, 1995. p. 1035 

3. "The Mount Sinai Health System Is Formed to Provide Expanded Access to Primary, Specialty, and Ambulatory Care." Press Release announcing completion of merger. September 30, 2013. 

Accessed July 2015



Additional Sources

Flagg, Ernest. History of St. Luke’s Hospital with a Description of the New Buildings. New York: Wynkoop & Hallenbeck, Printers. 441 – 447 Pearl Street. 1893. 

West, John Petit. Surgeons and Surgery: St. Luke’s Hospital. New York: Woodhaven, 1978. 

St. Luke's Hospital Moves to Morningside Heights