Although hard to see through the tall  construction fence, Goldwater Memorial Hospital currently sits on this 9.9 acre site, but is in the process of being demolished.  Why?  Well, we'll see in a few stops. 

    The Welfare Island Hospital for Chronic Disease was constructed from 1935 to 1939 and designed by Isadore Rosenfield, Butler & Kohn, and York & Sawyer. This was the hospital's name until 1942 when it was named for Dr. S. S. Goldwater, who had campaigned so hard for an advanced hospital complex. It was designed to be a cutting edge technological campus not only care for patients with debilitating diseases, but work toward cures at the same time.  Using intensive sun studies, Rosenfield discovered that chevron-shaped wards with beds parallel to the exterior walls on a vertical spine created a hospital full of light and accessibility. 

    During World War II, the basement of Goldwater was used as a secret laboratory working on a cure for malaria and other diseases American forces were battling overseas.  Conscientious objectors volunteered as guinea pigs for tests on hypothermia, dehydration, and other afflictions. 

        In 1996, Goldwater merged with Bird S. Coler Memorial Hospital on the north end of the island, becoming Coler-Goldwater Memorial Hospital.  In 2010, it was announced that the campus would close, and patients relocated to the Coler campus and a new center in Harlem.  On December 31, 2013, the campus was officially shuttered, and the demolition began at the end of January 2014. Preliminary demolition is slated to be finished January 2015. 

    Photographer and architect Charles Giraudet has been furiously documenting Goldwater Hospital in its last days, compiling an extraordinary 15,000 images so far during the brief window between its de-commissioning and its imminent demolition.  Learn more about his work HERE.

        What is going to take Goldwater Hospital’s place after it’s taken away in the multitude of dumpsters on the right? Continue the tour to find out!

South Tour Stop 3: Goldwater


Goldwater Hospital

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Charles Giraudet

Charles Giraudet

Charles Giraudet

Charles Giraudet

Goldwater Hospital, 1938

NYC Municipal Archives