Animal Hospital & Showfields

Art & Culture | History

The first free animal hospital in the United States

Animal Hospital Showfields Noho History

About Animal Hospital & Showfields

 & why it made the Carpe City list

Welcome to the OG Vet! This imposing brick structure at Lafayette and Bond was built as “The Free Hospital and Dispensary for Animals.” It was the first institution of its kind in the country, which is actually not surprising. The modern American animal rights movement began in New York City!

The ASPCA was founded at what is now 55 Liberty Street, in lower Manhattan, in 1866. The socialite, Ellin Prince Speyer, founded the Women’s League of the ASPCA in 1906. The Women’s League sponsored “horse vacations” on an upstate farm for the city’s tired workhorses, provided animal watering stations throughout New York all summer long, and taught school children the best ways to care for their pet dogs, cats, and birds.

By 1910, The Women’s League had over 120 members. It officially separated from the ASPCA to become the “New York Women’s League for Animals.” Then, after pioneering an animal clinic on the Lower East Side, the new organization decided to create a permanent free animal hospital. The women raised $50,000 and opened “The Free Hospital and Dispensary for Animals” on March 14th, 1914.

“State of the Art” does not even begin to describe how tricked out the Animal Hospital was! We’re talking a rooftop garden for horses in need of sunshine (and an awesome elevator to get them up there!) The hospital served cats, dogs, birds, and horses into the 1960s.

Carpe City Trivia

Why did the Free Animal Hospital stop seeing patients in the 1960s?

In 1960, The League began construction on the "Animal Medical Center" on East 62nd Street. The Center opened its doors in 1962, and today it is the largest non-profit animal hospital in the world, treating 54,000 patients a year!

By: Lucie Levine
Photography by:

Christi Scofield

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