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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Cutting Room: 1900

Cutting Room: 1900

New York circa 1900. "Operating room in Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Glass Table

Glass topped operating tables were common back then. Before stainless steel it was easier to keep sterile then a painted surface. Oddly enough I remember reading that the Titanic's operating room had one as well.

Needs some evil

I decided to fool around with this one and add some darkness to it.

Up and down

I think that the hanging glass jars contained ether or chloroform. As for the glass operating table -- maybe it has something to do with the carbolic acid, which was used as a disinfectant.

Let us not think

about those two ominous glass containers hanging from the ceiling and where those rubber hoses may end up.

Cutting-room floor

Looks like there is at least some effort for cleanliness and sterilization (witness the two autoclaves), but the floor looks filthy!! Would have to think all those grout lines on the floor were breeding grounds for all kinds of nasty bacteria.

Question: What are the two coffee-maker-looking contraptions to the right of the autoclaves? Hot water dispensers?

What's with the riveted steel doors?

I'm not sure I want to know what they kept in there.

For your maximum safety

Be sure your operation is not scheduled on a cloudy day.

Regular or decaf?

Them's some fancy lookin' coffee urns.

Glass everywhere

So what's with the glass operating table? And what are those things that look like apothecary urns.

Those were the days

This reminds me of my own days as an anesthesiologist in a country hospital thirty years ago. The windows of the theatre could be opened, and just like in the picture there was a large tree growing outside. If the operation took too long, I could break the monotony by picking an apple or two. And I do not really think that we had significantly more infections then than we do now.

Lots of daylight

Note the big windows and rooflight. It was very difficult to get enough light for surgeons to see what they were doing even with what look like four electric photoflood bulbs.

Some early hospitals had the operating theatre on the top floor to get maximum daylight. The operating table is on casters and might have had to be turned round to get better light onto the unfortunate patient.

Just add

a few electrodes along with some more warmth and ambience and you've got Dr. Frankenstein's Laboratory.

Who's your decorator?

That sink would look great in my kitchen, and the chair on the right is to die for! The three-bowl stand would be perfect for chips, and I'll bet I could make fantastic nachos in the autoclave. The finishing touch is the twin samovars that give the room that complete steampunk-Euro-eclectic look.

Later on

This place became a Beatnik coffee house with a pair of restaurant sized espresso makers and two round microwaves for warm-ups. The two Turkish water pipes coming down from the ceiling were especially cool.

Does anyone know what this equipment was used for originally?


I'm guessing someone here knows why plate glass seems to be part of the operating room table. Is it so they can see where the patient -- gulp -- is bleeding from?

Just Relax

Right comfy looking operating table, wouldn't you say?

The last patient

must have been in a hurry to leave -- he left his hat on the radiator.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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