Pennsylvania Hospital
University of Pennsylvania Health System
Main building of Pennsylvania Hospital
Main building of Pennsylvania Hospital in 2024
Pennsylvania Hospital is located in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Hospital
Location800 Spruce Street,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Coordinates39°56′41.2″N 75°9′22.56″W / 39.944778°N 75.1562667°W / 39.944778; -75.1562667
Care systemPrivate
FundingNon-profit hospital
Affiliated universityPerelman School of Medicine
NetworkUniversity of Pennsylvania Health System
Emergency departmentYes
ListsHospitals in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Hospital
The Pennsylvania Hospital by William Strickland (1755)
Location800 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
BuiltDecember 17, 1756
ArchitectSamuel Rhoads[4]
Architectural styleColonial and Federal (Pine Building)
NRHP reference No.66000688[3]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966
Designated NHLJune 22, 1965
Designated PHMCDecember 17, 1954[5]
The emergency room entrance at Pennsylvania Hospital at 9th and Spruce streets

Pennsylvania Hospital is a private, non-profit, 515-bed teaching hospital located at 800 Spruce Street in Center City Philadelphia, The hospital was founded on May 11, 1751 by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Bond, and was the second established public hospital (first was Bellevue) but had the first surgical ampitheatre in the United States.[2][3][a][6] and its first medical library.[7] It is part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

The hospital's main building, dating to 1756, is a National Historic Landmark.[3]


18th century

Pennsylvania Hospital was originally conceived in 1751 by Thomas Bond as an institution "for the reception and cure of the sick of charge. It was funded by "matching grant" to donations of the people of Philadelphia by a bill, which the House passed unanimously on February 7, 1750. Franklin later wrote that, "I do not remember any of my political Manoeuvres, the Success of which gave me at the time more Pleasure." On September 2, 1751, Mathias Koplin donated the first plot of ground for the new hospital.[8]

The first building at the hospital was opened on February 6, 1752, on High Street[9] (now Market Street). Elizabeth Gardner, a Quaker widow, was appointed Matron of the hospital. As the hospital received support of the leading families in Philadelphia, its permanence was secured, and Samuel Rhoads was appointed architect of the new building.

Thomas Stretch was among the leading citizens of Philadelphia and one of the founders of Pennsylvania Hospital. He was a member of the Union Fire Company, also known as Benjamin Franklin's Bucket Brigade and a founder of the social club known as Schuylkill Fishing Company, and the club's first governor in 1732, re-elected annually until his death in 1765.[10] Stretch was a director of the Philadelphia Contributionship (Hand-in-Hand fire mark) from 1758 to 1761.[11][12]

In the Pennsylvania Gazette of May 29, 1755, Thomas Stretch appears as one of the largest subscribers with Benjamin Franklin and others to the fund for the Pennsylvania Hospital. The Stretch family and Benjamin Franklin each provided half of the original capital to fund the hospital. The list of subscribers reads:

Subscriber £ Shillings
Thomas Stretch 10 0
Joseph Stretch 5 8
Isaac Stretch 10 0
Benjamin Franklin 25 0
Robert Harding 1 7

Thomas Stretch and Joseph Stretch were sons of Peter Stretch (1670–1746) and Margery Hall Stretch (1668–1746). It is likely the reference to Isaac Stretch is to Isaac Stretch (1714–1770), son of Daniel Stretch (1694–1746), another son of Peter and Margery Stretch. The Stretch family were Quakers.

Joseph Stretch, mentioned above, was at this time "His Majesty's Collector of Excise for the City and County of Philadelphia", as may be seen from a notice in the Pennsylvania Gazette of October 28, 1756; and subsequently, in 1768, he was "His Majesty’s Collector of Customs, etc., for the Port of Philadelphia". Robert Harding was pastor of St. Joseph's Church.[13]

In 1755, the cornerstone was laid for the East Wing of what would become the hospital's permanent location at 8th and Pine Streets. All of the patients were transferred from the temporary hospital to the permanent hospital on December 17, 1756. The first admission of a new patient occurred on the following day.[9] The site continued to grow through the years with the addition of more wings; the West Wing of the building was built in 1796, and buildings, extra land, and further expansion have since been added.

19th century

While attending clinics in the Pennsylvania Hospital in November 1869, the first time women students attended the hospital, Anna Lukens and a Miss Brumall led a line of women students out of the hospital grounds amid hisses, jeers, insults, and thrown stones and mud from male students.[14]

Pennsylvania Hospital gained a reputation as a center of innovation and medical advancement, particularly in the area of maternity. It was a teaching hospital from its very beginning, when Bond would lead rounds through what is now the east wing of the main building. In its early years it was also known for its particularly advanced and humane facilities for mentally ill patients at a time when mental illness was very poorly understood and patients were often treated very badly. Care of the mentally ill was removed to West Philadelphia in 1841 with the construction of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, later known as The Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital. Under superintendent Thomas Story Kirkbride, the hospital developed a treatment philosophy that became the standard for care of the mentally ill in the 19th century.

20th century

In 1950, Pennsylvania Hospital was recognized for becoming more highly specialized as it established, in addition to its sophisticated maternity programs, an intensive care unit for neurological patients, a coronary care unit, an orthopaedic institute, a diabetes center, a hospice, specialized units in oncology and urology and broadened surgical programs.

The hospital has served as a center for treating the war wounded. Patients were brought to the hospital for treatment in the Revolutionary War, the American Civil War and the Spanish–American War, and units from the hospital were sent abroad to treat wounded in World War I and in World War II (to the Pacific theater).

The seal of the hospital, chosen by Franklin and Bond, incorporates the story of the Good Samaritan; the phrase "Take Care of Him and I will repay Thee" is used on it.

In 1996, Patricia A. Ford established the bloodless medicine program at Pennsylvania Hospital and performed the first successful bloodless stem-cell transplant.[15][16]

In 1997, Pennsylvania Hospital's Board of Managers made the decision to merge with the University of Pennsylvania Health System.[17] The large health system helps to support the formerly stand-alone hospital with its network of resources.

21st century

In 2001, Pennsylvania Hospital celebrated its 250th anniversary.[18] The Center for Transfusion-Free Medicine at Pennsylvania Hospital has evolved into a major national bloodless center that treats more than 1300 inpatients per year.[15]


According to US News & World Report Pennsylvania Hospital is ranked 12th among hospitals in the state of Pennsylvania and 6th among 12 hospitals ranked in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.[19] It also achieved a high-performing status across five subspecialties.[19] The 2018 Becker's Hospital Review listed the internal medicine residency program at Pennsylvania Hospital 19th in the country.[20] According to the Doximity residency internal medicine rankings, in the category "Reputation" Pennsylvania Hospital is 28th in the country of 620 programs.[21] According to the Doximity residency Obstetrics & Gynecology rankings, in the category "Reputation" Pennsylvania Hospital is 48th in the country of 298 programs.[22]

Historic firsts

Historic library

Pennsylvania Hospital Historic Medical Library

In 1762, the first book for the hospital's medical library was donated by John Fothergill, a British friend of Franklin's.[23] In 1847, the American Medical Association designated the library as the first, largest, and most important medical library in the United States. That year, in 1847, the library contained about 9,000 volumes.[24] The collection now contains over 13,000 volumes[24] dating back to the 15th century—including medical and scientific volumes as well as books on natural history. The library includes the nation's most complete collection of medical books published between 1750 and 1850.[25] The collection also contains several incunabula, books written before 1501, when the printed process was invented.[6]

Surgical amphitheater

The surgical amphitheater in the historic Pennsylvania Hospital building

The top floor of Pennsylvania Hospital is the home of the nation's oldest surgical amphitheater, which served as the operating room from 1804 through 1868. Surgeries were performed on sunny days between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm since there was no electricity at the time. The surgical amphitheater seats 180 and with those standing, up to 300 people might be present during any given surgical operation.[26]

Physic garden

The Board of Managers first proposed the Physic Garden in 1774 to provide physicians with ingredients for medicines. The idea was approved, but financial circumstances intervened and the project was delayed for two centuries. In 1976, the planting of the garden was the bicentennial project of the Philadelphia Committee of the Garden Club of America and the Friends of Pennsylvania Hospital. Located in front of the Pine Building's West Wing, the garden has plants that were once used for medicines to stimulate the heart, ease toothaches, relieve indigestion, and cleanse wounds in the 18th century.[6]

Maternity firsts

Pennsylvania Hospital is noted for its many firsts in the area of women's medicine, especially in maternity. In 1803, the hospital established a "lying-in" (or maternity) department. This lasted until 1854 when obstetrics and gynecology took a 75-year break at the hospital. The specialties were reinstated in 1929 with the opening of the Woman's Building (now the Spruce Building) which sported 150 adult beds, 80 bassinets, 2 operating rooms, a series of labor and delivery rooms, and outpatient clinics. It was considered "one of the most modern hospital buildings in the country" especially at a time when women's medicine was not thought to be very important and most births were still done at home.[27] This was followed in 1978 with the first Antenatal Testing Unit (ATU) in the region and in 1985 when the first GIFT (Gamete IntraFallopian Transfer) pregnancy in Philadelphia was achieved at the hospital. In 1987, Pennsylvania Hospital achieved two obstetrical firsts: the first birthing suite in a tertiary care hospital in the state was opened, and the first gestational carrier and egg donor programs in the Delaware Valley were begun to complement the hospital's existing fertility services. In 1995, the hospital was the first in the region to achieve 1,000 live births from in-vitro fertilization, GIFT, and other assisted reproductive technologies.[28]

Notable physicians

See also


  1. ^ "Although Philadelphia General Hospital (1732) and Bellevue Hospital in New York (1736) are older, the Philadelphia General was founded as an almshouse, and Bellevue as a workhouse".[3]


  1. ^ "Clinical Sites". Penn Medicine. Retrieved May 6, 2024.
  2. ^ a b Williams, William Henry (1976). America's First Hospital: The Pennsylvania Hospital, 1751-1841. Haverford House. ISBN 9780910702027.
  3. ^ a b c d Staff. "NPS Focus: 66000688". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  4. ^ "Pennsylvania Hospital". Library Company of Philadelphia. World Digital Library. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  5. ^ "PHMC Historical Markers". Historical Marker Database. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c "Visitor Information for Pennsylvania Hospital". University of Pennsylvania. Penn Medicine.
  7. ^ Weise, F (January 2004). "Being there: the library as place". Journal of the Medical Library Association. 92 (1): 6–13. PMC 314099. PMID 14762459.
  8. ^ Lemay, J. A. Leo (2008). The Life of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 3: Soldier, Scientist, and Politician, 1748–1757. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 272. ISBN 978-0-8122-4121-1.
  9. ^ a b Morton, Thomas G.; Frank Woodbury (1897). The History of the Pennsylvania Hospital, 1751–1895. Philadelphia: Times Printing House. p. 32.
  10. ^ A History of the Schuylkill Fishing Company of the State in Schuylkill 1732–1888. Philadelphia: The State in Schuylkill. 1889. p. 5.
  11. ^ "Tick Tock, the Tall Case Clock". The Graeme Park Gazette (January–March 2007): 5. 2007.
  12. ^ "Philadelphia Contributionship". Board of Directors Meeting Minutes, 1758–1761. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  13. ^ "Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia". Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia (III). American Catholic Historical Society: 196–98. 1888–1891.
  14. ^ Frances Elizabeth Willard; Mary Ashton Rice Livermore (1897). American Women: Fifteen Hundred Biographies with Over 1,400 Portraits: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of the Lives and Achievements of American Women During the Nineteenth Century. Mast, Crowell & Kirkpatrick. p. 477.
  15. ^ a b "The Center for Transfusion-Free Medicine". Penn Medicine. Retrieved July 11, 2024.
  16. ^ "Philadelphia Hospitals: Bloodless Medicine and Surgery". Philly Mag. Retrieved July 11, 2024.
  17. ^ "A historic hospital at a crossroads: Will Penn stop the bleeding?". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved April 25, 2024.
  18. ^ "Pennsylvania Hospital healthy at 250th". Times Herald. May 13, 2001. Retrieved April 21, 2024.
  19. ^ a b "Pennsylvania Hospital". US News & World Report. Retrieved April 21, 2024.
  20. ^ "Top 25 internal medicine residencies, ranked by physicians". Beckers Hospital Review. July 25, 2018. Retrieved April 21, 2024.
  21. ^ "Internal Medicine". Doximity. Retrieved May 30, 2024.
  22. ^ "Obstetrics & Gynecology". Doximity. Retrieved May 30, 2024.
  23. ^ a b "Pennsylvania Hospital History: Historical Timeline - 1751-1800". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
  24. ^ a b "An Initiative" (PDF). The Friends of the Historical Library. University of Pennsylvania.
  25. ^ "Historic Library". The Historical Library. University of Pennsylvania.
  26. ^ Pennsylvania Hospital: Virtual Tour: Surgical Amphitheatre
  27. ^ History of Pennsylvania Hospital: 1901-1950
  28. ^ History of Pennsylvania Hospital: 1950-Today
  29. ^ Noble, Holcomb B (February 25, 2013). "C. Everett Koop, Forceful U.S. Surgeon General, Dies at 96". New York Times.
  30. ^ "BioTime, Inc. Appoints Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D. to its Board of Directors". BusinessWire Press Release. November 9, 2011.

Further reading