Founded as the Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital by charter of the New York State legislature, dated May 5, 1869, the hospital was established on December 15 of the same year in an old four story brownstone building at 233 East Thirty-Fourth Street, with a capacity of thirty beds. It had neither asked nor accepted any grant of money from state or city treasury, and its only sources of income were derived from the gifts of charitable persons and such payments for board and lodging as a portion of its patients was able to afford. Had the directors been willing to accept state aid, the initial floating debt might have been avoided or liquidated.
At this time public hospitals for the poor were sorely needed. The poor were very poor indeed. Prices of the necessaries of life were high and the wages of the laboring class very low.
WOOTTON HW. HISTORY OF THE MANHATTAN EYE, EAR AND THROAT HOSPITAL. Arch Ophthalmol. 1935;14(6):914–921. doi:10.1001/archopht.1935.00840120052006
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