“The Plague Ship:” Examining the Arrival and Controversial Quarantine of the J.W. Taylor at The Port of New York in 1899
MetadataShow full item record
As the late 19th century witnessed the third pandemic of bubonic plague in human history, early public health organizations were forced to combat the terrifying disease in a world being increasingly globalized by the Second Industrial Revolution. As international trade and industrial manufacturing flourished, so too did new opportunities for disease to spread, requiring public health officials to adapt and develop new ways of battling the plague. This paper discusses these changes by examining the arrival of the J.W. Taylor in the New York Harbor during the Winter of 1899. Loaded with valuable cargo and several crew members infected with plague, the steamship’s quarantine soon became national news. As a city of three and a half million people were threatened with arguably the most feared disease known to humanity, the controversies that emerged from the Taylor’s arrival illuminate both the changing structures of public health at the turn of the century, as well as the enduring tensions which have shaped modern understandings of the field.