HSS Journal

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 3–8 | Cite as

Hospital for Special Surgery: Origin and Early History First Site 1863–1870

Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled: first site: 1863-1870
History of HSS


Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) originated as the Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled (R&C) 142 years ago in New York City. As the first and only orthopaedic hospital of its kind in this country, it was located in the residence of its founder James Knight on Second Avenue, south of Sixth Street, and started with 28 inpatient beds for children but no operating facilities. The history of this institution has been documented in two books and occasionally published and unpublished papers. Many of these accounts have been limited by time, focus on a particular subject, or overall reviews. The emergence of such a specialized facility in the middle of the 19th century during a time of medicine in its infancy, our country at war and the city of New York racked in poverty, disease, civil riots, and political corruption is a story not necessarily appreciated in our day. The vision of one little-known physician and the cooperation and support of a small group of prominent New Yorkers and philanthropists were responsible for the origin of this hospital and particularly for its survival in such troubled times when most small hospitals of this period lasted only for a few years. Fortunately, almost all of the original Annual Reports of the Board of Managers, photographs, manuscripts, personal records, and newspaper clippings have been saved. They are now being collected, preserved, catalogued, and displayed in the newly formed HSS Archives from which this material has been taken.

Key words

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) Hospital of the New York Society for the Relief of the Ruptured and Crippled (R&C) New York Society for the Relief of the Ruptured and Crippled James Knight Lewis Sayre R.M. Hartley John C. Green 



I wish to acknowledge the deep commitment to the history of our hospital and continuous documentation of it over the years made possible by Philip D. Wilson, Jr., MD. I also wish to pay tribute to Thomas P. Sculco, MD, for his special interest in the roots of this hospital, for his many reviews of itshistory and for his vision of the importance of establishing an Archives.


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Copyright information

© Hospital for Special Surgery 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Weill Medical College of Cornell UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Education DivisionHospital for Special SurgeryNew YorkUSA

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