The History of the Henry Street Settlement

By Samuel Phineas Upham

In 1893, Lillian wald founded the Henry Street Settlement with the intention of serving the city’s poor. Wald had permanently relocated to the Lower East Side of New York City in order to serve the sick and poor there, but she needed a more permanent establishment to do so effectively.

The settlement is located on Henry Street, occupying row houses 263, 265 and 267.

Wald had been teaching a class on healthcare in the home at the Women’s Medical College in New York. Once the lecture had ended, a child approached her and seemed to indicate she needed help at home. The story goes that Wald was able to understand “mommy… baby… blood” and knew she needed to work.

She followed the child home and found her mother in dire need of medical care. The woman had given birth, but was having complications. Her doctor had left her because she could not afford to pay the extra money it would have costs to do the procedure. Wald was forced to step in to act and that drove her to open the Nurses’ Settlement the next year.

The settlement later changed its name to the Henry Street Settlement, and occupied only one building at the time. Jacob Schiff, a philanthropist and banker at the time, decided to donate in the form of buying townhouse 265. 267 was purchased 11 years later by Morris Loeb.

Today, Henry Street pioneers community healthcare and social service. It is also home to one of New York City’s first off-street playgrounds.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Twitter.