The Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled: Knight to Gibney, 1870–1887


In 1870, R&C moved to its second site on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street. A newly constructed building designed by a specialist in ecclesiastical architecture became the home of a 200-bed children's hospital planned entirely by Dr. James Knight, founder of the hospital and its first Surgeon-in-Chief. Expansion of the facilities and of the professional staff, although needed and welcomed, brought new challenges, changes, and conflicts. The root of these was to lie in the complex character of James Knight with his dogmatic approach to patient care vs the open nature of his newly appointed assistant, Virgil Gibney, who was to become his successor and eventually the second Surgeon-in-Chief. How these two personalities worked together for 13 years, abruptly parted, and then after Knight's death, the reappearance of Gibney, is a fascinating story of the early development of the first orthopedic hospital in this country. It was a period after the Civil War described as the “Gilded Age,” where not only the country, but the city, was going through its own challenges, changes and conflicts. Emerging was a new era for R&C introducing surgery, postgraduate medical education, and eventually, clinical and basic research.

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Correspondence to David B. Levine MD.

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Levine, D.B. The Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled: Knight to Gibney, 1870–1887. HSS Jrnl 2, 1–6 (2006).

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Key words

  • Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled
  • Hospital for Special Surgery
  • James Knight
  • Virgil Gibney
  • John Green
  • Lewis A. Sayre
  • Charles Fayette Taylor
  • Buckminster Brown
  • Henry Frauenthal
  • Gilded Age
  • William H. Osborn