History: Island’s Convalescent Camp

Written by Contributor. Posted in Volume 34, Issue 8 - January 11, 2014

In 1937, hospital patients who returned to their residences in tenements were hard-pressed to recover from serious  illnesses, due to miserable living conditions in their homes and neighborhoods.

Dr. S. S. Goldwater, New York City’s Hospital Commissioner, conceived the idea of a day camp for these patients, to be located on Welfare Island – today’s Roosevelt Island.  From 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., participants received nourishing meals and attended sessions in arts and crafts, occupational therapy, and sports, along with other fresh-air activities.  They were transported to and from the camp, located in what is now Manhattan Park, by a ferry at East 79th Street. From 1939 to the late 1940s, the camp’s services saved thousands of lives.

Historian Judith Berdy will recount the little-known history of the convalescent camp, its construction, patients, and the fate of its structures, in a lecture on Dr. S. S. Goldwater and the Convalescent Camp sponsored by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, at the New York Public Library Branch on Roosevelt Island, on Tuesday, January 14, at 6:30 p.m.

The event is free, and is  the first in a series of spring lectures sponsored by the Historical Society.

The Historical Society promotes awareness of our Island’s unique story and pursues preservation of its landmarks and artifacts. For more information, please visit www.rihs.us.

Tags: island history

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