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John Lazzaro: Sanatorium: Remnants of America’s Tuberculosis Movement
October 28, 2021 - November 27, 2021FREE
Before COVID-19, SARS, and the Spanish Flu, the leading cause of death in many U.S. cities was tuberculosis. Reaching epidemic proportions in the early 20th Century, the need to treat tuberculosis coincided with public health awareness of tuberculosis as a communicable disease that required both improvements in housing and adequate isolation of the sick. This ultimately led to the founding of private and state-operated hospitals known as sanatoriums.
Typically located in rural settings, mountains, or seaside locations, sanatoriums provided comfort and isolation where patients could breathe fresh air, rest, and have controlled access to sunlight – the very features that supposedly contributed to the cure for tuberculosis. Architectural innovations in sanatoriums such as fresh air porches, gardens creating a homelike setting, and majestic grounds for respiratory and cardiovascular stimulation, are still in use in America’s hospital designs today. But the reliance on them would end after WWII when microbiologist Selman Waksman discovered the antibiotic streptomycin. While most sanatoriums have been demolished or repurposed into modern facilities, the historical significance of the existing structures still show as symbols of progressive ideas and civic responsibility that were constructed by the like minds of physicians, philanthropists, and government officials.
John Lazzaro is a photographer and documentary filmmaker based in Long Island, NY. Fascinated by history and storytelling, his documentaries address topics of social awareness. Hindsight (2010), offered a painful look at Long Island’s heroin epidemic. His first photo book, The Walls Still Talk documents the decades of neglect and decay of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center in Kings Park, NY as a result of deinstitutionalization.
In his approach to photography, Lazzaro draws upon his experiences from documentary filmmaking in order to create a realistic, visual, and thought-provoking dialogue of the macabre. His main focus is capturing abandoned buildings and vanishing architecture throughout the United States. Lazzaro is also a member of fotofoto gallery in Huntington, NY and The Firefly Gallery in Northport, NY.