helen julliard floating

New York’s original floating hospital

New York City has long welcomed floating hospitals to its waters.

If you didn’t know, The Floating Hospital was founded in New York in 1866.

NYC’s first floating hospital was the Emma Abbot, launched in the 1870s. Before the Emma, The Floating Hospital cared for families living in the city’s tenements from a series of chartered sea vessels. The Emma was their first dedicated floating healthcare clinic.

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emma abbot painting

A painting of our first independently owned vessel, the Emma Abbot, by Julian Oliver Davidson.
The Emma Abbot launched in 1875.

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emma abbot

The Emma Abbot.



Over the years, five Floating Hospitals served NYC’s poorest families, regardless of financial, immigration, or insurance status. From the beginning, just a year after the Civil War ended, our mission was to serve everyone: every class, every race, every heart, every body.

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helen julliard i floating

Our second vessel, the Helen C. Julliard I.
Launched in 1899, and funded by the Julliard family, better known as patrons of music.

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helen c. julliard II

After seeing the benefit of the Helen C. Julliard I, the Julliard family funded the next vessel, the Helen C. Julliard II, in 1916.

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building the lloyd floating

Building our third vessel, the Lloyd I. Seaman.
It was funded by a number of donors, and launched in 1935.

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waiting to board the lloyd

Patients and staff waiting to board the Lloyd.



The Floating Hospital today

While changing city government moored the last ship shortly after the September 11th attacks, The Floating Hospital still sails on as land-based community clinics, primarily serving the city’s homeless families as well as those living at or below the poverty line.

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lloyd seaman

The Lloyd I. Seaman launched in 1935.
Does anybody know which bridge that is?

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lila floating

Across the harbor, you can see Lila, the final Floating Hospital vessel, which launched in 1973.


As can be seen, hope has always sailed in New York City.

lila brooklyn bridge floating

Lila under the Brooklyn Bridge.

You can see lots more images, and learn more about our history on our Tumblr.

Since 1866, The Floating Hospital is the largest provider of healthcare to homeless families. We provide free and secure transport to and from over 300 shelters and domestic violence safe houses throughout New York City.

The Floating Hospital operates a main clinic in Long Island City. Additionally, we have satellite clinics at shelters, public housing, and assessment centers throughout the city.


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The Floating Hospital provides high-quality healthcare to anyone who needs it regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, immigration or insurance status, or the ability to pay. By providing unrestricted medical care in tandem with health education and social support to vulnerable New York City families, The Floating Hospital aims to ensure those most in need have the ability to thrive, not just survive.


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