Presbyterian Hospital was founded by Robert Lenox, a distinguished philanthropist and book collector, and a committee of Presbyterian laymen in January 1868. Though supported by Presbyterians, the hospital was explicitly declared to be open to all “without regard to race, creed, or color.”
The hospital opened its door on Oct. 10, 1872 on a site bounded by Madison and Park Avenues, 70th and 71st Streets. In 1911, assisted by generous financial support from Edward S. Harkness, it affiliated with Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons, allowing the College’s students free access to its wards for instructional purposes. In March, 1928, the medical school and the hospital were physically united in the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center located on West 168th St. in the Washington Heights neighborhood of northern Manhattan, though both Columbia and Presbyterian remained independent corporate entities.
In 1925, Presbyterian absorbed the Vanderbilt Clinic and Sloane Hospital for Women, previously operated by the medical school. In 1933, Babies Hospital and the Neurological Institute of New York were consolidated into Presbyterian, though both institutions retained a separate corporate identity until a final merger on Dec. 31, 1943. In 1945, the New York Orthopaedic Hospital merged with Presbyterian; it moved to the Columbia-Presbyterian campus in 1950.
The Board of Trustees (known as the Board of Managers until Oct. 1945) generally had about 30 members in the 19th and early 20th centuries. By the 1950s that number had increased to about 45. It was exclusively male until January 1938 when the first woman, Mrs. Henry P. Davison, was elected.
Presbyterian Hospital merged with New York Hospital on Dec. 31, 1997 to form a new corporation, New York-Presbyterian Hospital.