Pennsylvania Hospital
was first founded back in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond. Since that time, Pennsylvania Hospital was the first hospital in the United States and is also the home of the very first medical library and the very first surgical amphitheater in the United States. Since the hospital was founded, it has been innovatively leading the way in regards to patient care, treatment techniques, as well as with medical research.

The Conception of the Pennsylvania Hospital

The Pennsylvania Hospital was first conceived of by Dr. Thomas Bond. Dr. Thomas Bond was seeking an institution dedicated to the treatment of the sick and poor — free of charge. The hospital was generously funded by donations made by the people of Philadelphia. In September of 1751, the first plot of ground for the hospital was donated by Mathias Koplin. And in 1752, the very first building was opened on High Street.

High Street is now Market Street and this building was only a temporary building in preparation for the hospital’s permanent location. Work on the hospital’s permanent location at 8th and Pine Streets began in 1755 and the hospitals first patients were admitted in 1756. The site continued to grow with the addition of additional wings and expansions throughout the years. The hospital quickly gained a reputation for its medical advancement and as a center of innovation.

It was also known as a teaching hospital from the very start and in the early years was well known for its advanced treatments of the mentally ill. In 1950, the hospital began receiving more recognition due to the fact that it was becoming a more highly-specialized instituted with its new sophisticated maternity programs, coronary unit, orthopaedic institute, intensive care for neurological patients, diabetes center, specialized unites in oncology and urology and due to its broad surgical programs. War wounded patients were also frequently brought to Pennsylvania Hospital for treatment during the Revolutionary War, the American Civil War and the Spanish American War.

These are just some of the hospitals many accomplishments:

  • The Historic Library: In 1762, the very first book was donated to the medical library and in 1847 the hospital was deemed to the first, largest and most important library in the U.S. by the American Medical Association. This medical library includes books published between 1750 and 1850; along with several books written before 1501.
  • The Surgical Amphitheatre: This is the nation’s oldest surgical amphitheatre and served as the hospital’s operating room from 1804 to 1868 on the top floor of the hospital.
  • The Physic Garden: The idea for the physic garden was first proposed in 1774, but was the project did not actually begin until two centuries later in 1976, due to financial circumstances. The hospital’s physic garden has plants which were used in the 18th century medicines and is located in the front of the West Wing of the Pine Building.
  • Maternity: The Pennsylvania Hospital is widely noted for its many firsts in women’s obstetrics and gynecology.