Right now Bellevue Hospital is Ebola Ground Zero. With the first reported instance of the virus in the city, the oldest operating hospital in the country is front and center. As well known as it for its medical care, the storied facility — which opened in 1736 — also has some other interesting attractions that are highly recommended (more photos in the gallery above).
Tour the Religious Area
On the second floor, there’s Chapel Hall, the section of the hospital where visitors can find a mosque, a synagogue, and three chapels. The Judeo-Christian rooms are adorned with pews and beautiful stained glass windows, all of which must remain closed so pigeons don’t imprison themselves. The Muslim space is decorated in a more minimalist theme, but does have some dope Arabic letters on the wall and at least one cool chair.
Dine at Au Bon Pain
Don’t let the notice reminding doctors to disinfect themselves before eating affect your menu choice at this fine, ubiquitous “fast-casual bakery and cafe chain.” In addition to a robust coffee selection at the Bellevue branch, there’s a nice selection of pastries and a spacious area where you can sit and enjoy your food and beverage.
Check Out the Cool Historic Stuff
As the city’s oldest hospital, Bellevue has a lot of history. The original facade of the building, encased in a glass pavilion designed in 2005 by I.M. Pei, is stunning. On the premises there are also some amazing artifacts on display like an 1898 horse-drawn ambulance, the first hospital in the U.S. to have one. And it came equipped, per the item’s description:
A box beneath the driver’s seat containing “a quart flask of brandy, two tourniquets, a half-dozen bandages, a half-dozen small sponges, some splint material, pieces of old blankets for padding, strips of various lengths with buckles, and a two-ounce vial of persulphate of iron.” Later versions added “handcuffs and straight-jackets for insane patients or patients of a demonstrative disposition.”
Next to the ambulance is a vintage drug kit. The leather “surgeon’s case” retailed for $13.50 circa 1905, and was billed as “the best quality oil-tanned sole leather medicine case…” There’s also a stylish surgeon’s cap from 1906 that would be a hit, if only ironically.
View the Art
Bellevue’s sprawling space hosts some fascinating paintings, sculptures, and other gaze-worthy objects. On the east end of the hospital stands “The Gorgeous Mosaic” by artist Simon Verity. Near the pediatrics admissions area hangs a whimsical 1973 oil-on-canvas painting titled “The Sun of the Squares of the Houses,” by Alfred Jensen. There’s also this nearly Satanic bust of an ivory white family all connected in a clump as the mother breastfeeds. Very awesome stuff.
Enjoy the Outdoors
With all the germs floating around hospitals, it’s nice to get a reprieve outside. The hospital has a serene outdoor area with seating to view the giant sculptures and potted plants — and if you really have to, sneak in a quick smoke.
(Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)