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Is New Amsterdam a real hospital in New York?

Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about the fictional New Amsterdam hospital — and the very real New York City hospital that inspired it.

inside-new-amsterdam-hospital

If you’re a fan of medical drama TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, House, Chicago Med or The Resident, or grew up watching Chicago Hope and ER, chances are you’re hooked on the NBC series New Amsterdam.

Starring Ryan Eggold — familiar to TV audiences due to his role as Tom Keen on Blacklist — as the brilliant and charming Dr. Max Goodwin, the medical director of New Amsterdam Medical Center, the series tells the story of the gifted medical director and his ambitious efforts to revolutionize a struggling hospital — leaving audiences guessing what will come next.

Set against the backdrop of a crumbling hospital, this medical drama brings viewers on an emotional journey.

Described as America’s first public hospital, New Amsterdam Medical Center, most commonly referred to as the New Amsterdam Hospital, is a beast of a facility. It’s almost like a small town in itself, with a public school, courtroom, prison ward and facilities for the UN between its walls.

Unfortunately, New Amsterdam Hospital is not a real medical center, and no hospital in New York City goes by this name. But one very real hospital — the Bellevue Hospital Centre — does play the part of New Amsterdam on the NBC series, and its centuries-old history inspires the storyline.

New Amsterdam in real life: The Bellevue Hospital

Despite the show’s efforts to make New Amsterdam feel like an established public hospital, the truth is that New Amsterdam doesn’t exist in real life.

But it is based on a very real medical center: the Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City.

The oldest public hospital in the U.S. and one of the largest in the nation by number of beds, the Bellevue is located at 462 First Avenue in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.

exterior of the Bellevue Hospital in New York City, the real-life New Amsterdam Hospital
The Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Photo credit: ajay_suresh, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With a storied history that goes all the way back to 1736, the Bellevue is a regular fixture of New York City, and is often referenced in movies, television series, and even music.

In recent years, The Bellevue Hospital was also the subject of several books including Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital (2016), by historian David Oshinsky, Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue (2002), by Dr. Danielle Ofri, a long-time physician at Bellevue, and Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital (2012), by Dr. Eric Manheimer, a former Bellevue medical director.

The latter, Manheimer’s Twelve Patients, is the book New Amsterdam is based on, with Dr. Max Goodwin’s character being inspired by the life of Dr. Eric Manheimer, who served as chief medical officer of Bellevue Hospital for 15 years before leaving in 2012.

doctor Max Goodwin inside the New Amsterdam hospital

Other movies and TV shows that were filmed in the same hospital as New Amsterdam

Bellevue Hospital has been featured in a number of movies and TV shows over the years, including:

  1. The Exorcist (1973) – the horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted from the 1971 novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty and based on the 1949 exorcism of Roland Doe shot some scenes inside the hospital.
  2. Awake (2007) – the movie starring Jessica Alba and Hayden Christensen as a wealthy young man undergoing heart transplant surgery that discovers that his surgical team intends to murder him.
  3. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” – a police procedural drama series that has been airing on NBC since 1999, which often featured stories set at the hospital.
  4. The Devil’s Advocate (1997) – the star-studded mystery thriller drama starring Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, and Charlize Theron also filmed some scenes here.
  5. The Sleeping City (1950) – in this 1950s film noir, the murder of a Bellvue Hospital intern prompts the police to send an undercover detective to investigate.

Why makes Bellevue Hospital a top pick for filmmakers and TV crews to film in?

Bellevue Hospital has a long and storied history. Here are a few interesting things that caught our eye:

  1. It is the oldest public hospital in the United States, having been founded in 1736. As it says on its website: “We trace our roots back to 1736 when a six-bed infirmary opened on the second floor of the New York City Almshouse. This was just four years after the birth of George Washington and 40 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.”
  2. Bellevue has played a significant role in the development of American medicine. It was one of the first hospitals to have a medical school attached to it, and it has trained many of the country’s leading physicians over the years.
  3. The hospital has a long history of treating patients with infectious diseases, including yellow fever, smallpox, and cholera.
  4. Bellevue was also among the first hospitals in the United States to have an ambulance service.
  5. In the 20th century, Bellevue became a leader in the treatment of mental illness and was one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in the world.
  6. The hospital has been featured in numerous books, movies, and television shows over the years, even beyond those we listed above
  7. Bellevue Hospital also served as a makeshift morgue during 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001.
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