Walter Reed General Hospital opened May 1, 1909, on 43 undeveloped acres in the northern part of the District of Columbia. Just to the east lay the 19th century railroad suburb of Takoma, or Takoma Park on the Maryland side. With just a few dozen beds, the hospital stood almost alone, its only neighbors a small number of sergeants’ quarters.
It honored Major Walter Reed (1851-1902), a pre-eminent bacteriologist and surgeon* who, as head of the U.S. Army Yellow Fever Board in Cuba in 1900-1901, had discovered that the common mosquito, Aedes aegypti, transmitted the yellow fever virus — not improper sanitation.
*“Dead But Fame Lives,” The Washington Post, Nov. 24, 1902.
Image: Oldest known photo of Building 1 – 1909 National Museum of Health and Medicine, AFIP
Image: Monument to Walter Reed. National Museum of Health and Medicine, AFIP, WRAMC