While in and around New Orleans, you may notice there are quite a few buildings and institutions bearing the name Touro, including one of our major hospitals and an uptown neighborhood. You may even have noticed, if you hail from the Northeast, that there are many buildings and institutions around the country with the name Touro. Turns out they are all named after the same man, Judah Touro, who lived in New Orleans for more than 50 years. He originally came to the city in 1801, becoming a prominent businessman in the city. But after suffering a life-threatening injury in the Battle of New Orleans on New Year’s Day, 1815, he became something of a recluse and focused on capitalizing on his many business holdings in order to further his philanthropic efforts. Among his many contributions to the city were an almshouse, several religious institutions including both Touro Synogogue and a now-defunct Unitarian church, and numerous personal charities, among them victims of a fire in Alabama, a woman with starving children; he even once paid off the debts of an alchoholic man to prevent his large family from being sent to debtors prison on his behalf. But Touro’s most well known contributions remain those that resulted from his interest in supporting the medical community, an interest that arose out of the excellent medical care he received from his good friend Rezin Davis Shepherd following his injury in the Battle of New Orleans. Originally started as an infirmary for soldiers suffering yellow fever, Touro built up a quality hospital system here in New Orleans, and indeed Touro Infirmary remains one of the most respected institutions in the state today. The hospital received national attention during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as the only full service adult hospital to open immediately following the storm.
The Legacy of Touro
Mar 25, 2013 | History