Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

The Insider's Connection

Health Department

Government Responds to Yellow Fever Outbreak in New York City

How do city governments respond to crisis? What do people in power prioritize when the whole population is affected? How did rumors and panic lead to the first department of NYC’s Board of Health? It was 1793 when the Yellow Fever ravaged Philadelphia, killing 5,000 people quickly and without explanation. Fearful and uncertain of how the disease was caused and transmitted, New York City formed a Department of Health. Their first action was to quarantine all ships coming into the harbor from Philadelphia. There was little information available, but this department was trying to protect New Yorkers from whatever might be happening Philadelphia. Unfortunately, their efforts simply delayed the inevitable. Over the next 5 years, Yellow Fever claimed thousands of lives (at this point, the population of New York City was only 60,000 – imagine 8% of the city’s total…

Read More »

November 25, 2019

Skip to toolbar