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About Us
Quick Facts on the History of Public Health in New York City

1805   Board of Health met for the first time in April
1842   City gets fresh water from Croton reservoir
1850   Leading cause of death: tuberculosis
1866   State Legislature enacted a bill providing for a Metropolitan Board of Health
1870   Health Department created with 4 administrative bureaus
1870s   Commissioner Chandler appoints first milk inspector, opens laboratory
1884   Department creates Division of Food Inspection and Offensive Trades
1892   Bureau of Laboratories opens (first bacteriological lab)
1904  Department opens Tuberculosis clinics
1905   Leading cause of death: pneumonia
1907   “Typhoid Mary” is traced, confined at North Brother Island
1915   Bureau of Public Health Education created
1916   Department imposes quarantines and sets up clinics during polio epidemic
1928   Bureau of Nursing created
1935   Ground broken for DOH Headquarters at 125 Worth Street
1947   6.3 million vaccinated against smallpox
1949   Pieces of literature distributed at APHA convention: 52,500
Telephone requests for information: 645
Individual requests for information via mail: 2,736
1954   Salk vaccine developed and tested in NYC
1954   New York City Community Mental Health Board created
1954   Leading cause of death: Heart disease
1969   Lead Poisoning Prevention Program begins
1969   Dept. of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services is established
1976   Window Guards law passed
1981  Rare cancer, later known as the AIDS virus, is detected among gay men
1983   Office of Gay and Lesbian Health is formed
1985   DOH begins offering free, anonymous AIDS tests
1988   Needle exchange program implemented to curb HIV among injecting drug users
1990   New York, New York initiative to create housing for the homeless mentally ill is established
1991  Programs begun to improve asthma treatment for children
1993   AIDS incidence peaks with more than 12,600 new cases
1993  Reinvestment Law is passed. Transfers State funds from psychiatric hospital closures into community based services for the mentally
1992-96   Multi Drug resistant tuberculosis epidemic stopped
1996   Citywide Immunization Registry established, requiring doctors to report all childhood immunizations and decreasing vaccine-preventable illness in children
1999   Disease detectives track West Nile virus
2001   DOHMH responds to September 11
2001   DOHMH responds to anthrax attacks
2002   World Trade Center Health Registry is launched
2002  The merger of DOH and the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services
2003  Smoke Free Air Act takes effect, banning smoking in most indoor places including bars and restaurants
2003  District Public Health Offices open in Brooklyn, Harlem and the Bronx
2003  Leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, flu/pneumonia, diabetes
2004   Take Care NY
2004  Pieces of literature distributed: 4.2 million
Telephone requests for information: 137,373
Individual requests for information through website: 80,000
2005   Several syringe exchange programs open for the first time in Queens
2005  Bicentennial Celebration of the Board of Health

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