Landmarking Effort for NY Eye and Ear Infirmary Picks Up State Legislators’ Support

New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, 1904. Photo by Irving Underhill, courtesy MCNY.

We are pleased to report that our effort to landmark and protect the endangered historic NY Eye and Ear Infirmary has gained the support of State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein who represent the site and area — READ THEIR LETTER HERE. We have also asked for but not yet received support from City Councilmember Carlina Rivera and Borough President Mark Levine, who also represent the area.

This elected-official support is critical, as the hospital has begun emptying the East Village structure as part of a planned restructuring of the hospital. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary is the oldest specialized hospital in the Western Hemisphere and one of the oldest hospitals in New York, where great advances in treatment for the visually and hearing impaired took place, and generations of New Yorkers (often among the neediest) received care. The building, constructed in stages between 1856 and 1903, is also an architectural tour-de-force, embodying the hopes and aspirations of this institution over a century and a half. None other than Helen Keller spoke at the expanded building’s dedication in 1903.

Village Preservation is joined by the Historic Districts Council, the East Village Community Coalition, and the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative in calling upon the city to landmark the building to ensure it is saved — read our submission with photos and documentation here.

We are also working closely with staff and alumni of the hospital on this effort, who don’t want to see this incredibly rich and important history destroyed.


May 13, 2022