Early attempts at controlling tuberculosis in Chicago focused on home sanitation, public health education, and isolation of the patient. Private hospitals took a few tuberculosis patients, but public facilities to care for consumptives were not available.
In order to raise public awareness, the Visiting Nurses Association and physician Theodore Sachs spearheaded an antituberculosis movement in the early 1900s. This eventually resulted in the passage of state legislation, the Glackin Tuberculosis Law, in 1909, giving the city of Chicago the ability to raise funds for the treatment and control of tuberculosis through a special property tax.
In 1911, the city of Chicago bought 158 acres to establish the sanitarium in what is now the North Park Village Nature Center on Bryn Mawr at Pulaski. It operated from 1915 through the 1970s.
In 1914, there were 10,000 registered cases of Tuberculosis (TB). The number of deaths due to TB in Chicago that year was 3, 384. Yet there were only 300 public beds available in the city for patients who could not afford to pay for treatment. In March 1915, the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium opened its doors to citizens of Chicago suffering from tuberculosis. Treatment was free to residents of Chicago.
Some buildings are still standing, looking much the same on the outside as they did in 1915. The Sanitarium was designed as place of quiet and rest on the outskirts of the city. It is evident great consideration was given to the appearance of the buildings and grounds.
Read the 1915 "Municipal control of tuberculosis in Chicago. City of Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium, its history and provisions." Report to the Mayor.