Welfare Island Prison Hospital (demolished) Improvements – New York NY


The Works Progress Administration spent $1,500,000 for miscellaneous alterations, additions, renovations, grading, and landscaping of grounds at hospital and institutions to New York’s Charity Hospital.

In addition, a nurse’s home and a power plant were constructed at the hospital in the 1930s with the assistance of the Public Works Administration (PWA).

Originally named Penitentiary Hospital and located on what was then known as Blackwell’s Island, the first hospital was built in 1832 to serve the prisoners housed at Blackwell’s Penitentiary. After the hospital was destroyed by a fire in 1858, architect James Renwick, Jr. designed a new building to be called City Hospital, on which prisoners completed construction in 1861. It served both inmates and New York City’s poorer population. In 1870, the hospital was renamed Charity Hospital and a medical superintendent was hired after the quality of care was criticized. The city changed the name of the island to Welfare Island to reflect the mission of the institutions located there.

The prison closed in 1935, and the hospital was closed in 1957, when operations for Charity Hospital and Smallpox Hospital were moved to Queens. The building, designed in the Second Empire style, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, but not given protected landmark status. The next year, Welfare Island was renamed Roosevelt Island in honor of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The hospital was demolished in 1994, with stones salvaged from the structure used to the line paths in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, which is being constructed on southern tip of the island.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Roosevelt Island
New York, NY 10044

Coordinates: 40.757305, -73.955086

2 comments on “Welfare Island Prison Hospital (demolished) Improvements – New York NY

  1. Velma Sostre

    I was in welfare island youth house in the 60s. Youth House For. Girls it was a very spooking looking place dark stone buildings but the staffs were nice. I was around. 13 or 14 years old don’t remember too much now I’m 70.velma

  2. susann thomas

    I was also sent to Roosevelt Island/welfare Island in the 60s to a youth house for girls and it was a scary looking building I thought it was more Victorian I don’t remember all the brick but the staff was pleasant and the girls had a lot of freedoms because we were on the island we used to explore all the hospitals in the 60s I would like to see a picture of the old do youth house I wonder if it’s still there I think it had a basement for all the girls used to get their hair done we called at our salon I was about 14 and I was there at least 30 days I’ve done a lot of research I can’t find any pictures or the name of it but I think the name might’ve been Riverside use house, on the mainland it
    spoford for the boys In the Bronx

Leave a Reply

Before leaving a comment, please note:

  • Comments allow viewers to share information with others or alert us to errors or changes in a New Deal site.
  • We are not involved in the management of New Deal sites and have no information about visits, hours or rentals.
  • This page shows all the information we have for this site; if you have new information or photos to share, click below.


We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.