To meet the emergency thus created, the Commissioners decided upon the construction of a floating hospital, but changed their minds, and in 1858 hit upon "Old Orchard Shoals" in Raritan Bay, as a site, which plan also was not carried out. When, in 1859, another Commission was appointed, consisting of Horatio Seymour, John C. Green and Ex-Governor Patterson, the "floating hospital" idea was adopted, and the steamship Falcon purchased for that purpose, and located below the Narrows. The steamers Illinois and Empire City were subsequently also placed at the disposal of the Quarantine people by the general government. The Illinois served until 1888, when it was finally abandoned, and the S. D. Carlton purchased to take its place.
The arrangements were still inadequate in the early sixties. On the 23d of April, 1863, however, the General Quarantine Act was passed, establishing a general system of quarantine for the port. By this Act, the permanent office of Quarantine Commissioners was created, and their duties and powers, with those of the Health Officer, were more close defined. Among the subsequent amendatory Acts was that of April 22d, 1867, which provided for a permanent structure on West Bank, as also a temporary one on Barren Island, and a landing and boarding station on the west end of Coney Island. Of the last two projects nothing more was heard, but the construction of Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, on West Bank, was duly undertaken, and then came the location of the present boarding station just above Fort Wadsworth, in 1874. Thus, out of all these difficulties – occasioned to a great extent by the apathy of the people, out of which they were occasionally aroused by the alarming proximity of Yellow Jack and the cholera – there has arisen a Quarantine establishment that probably excels in completeness any other in the world. The confidence felt in its efficiency has made the air of secrecy which formerly enshrouded all doings at Quarantine a thing of the past. Still, if the methods down there were as well known as they ought to be, some of the misstatements made by the newspapers during the later "hunger-typhus" scare might have been avoided.
A perusal of the collected laws relating to Quarantine will convince us that they are in some measure antiquated and conflicting, but the jurisdiction of the Quarantine establishment extends from Sandy Hook to Hell Gate, and the Health Officer is invested with almost unlimited discretionary power, which has been used with good judgment. Anyone aggrieved by a decision of the Health Officer, however, may appeal to the Commissioners of Quarantine, whose decision, in that case, is final.
Violation of the Quarantine regulations, or obstruction of the officers in the performance of their duty, is punishable by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500, or by an imprisonment of not less than three nor more than six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. And masters of vessels who refuse or neglect to furnish all necessary information to the Health Officer are punishable by a fine not exceeding $2,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding twelve months, or by both.
By the law of April 11th, 1888, the annual salary of the Health Officer was fixed at $10,000, and all fees were legalized. The fee for the inspection of vessels from foreign ports was reduced from $6.50 to $5.00, and that for vessels from domestic ports south of Cape Henlopen, formerly $1.00, $2.00 and $3.00, according to the tonnage of the vessel, has been fixed at the uniform rate of $1.00 for all classes. The fee for boarding at night is reduced from $15.00, $10.00 and $8.00 to the uniform rate of $5.00, and the same amount constitutes the disinfection fee, which formerly ranged form $3.00 to $8.00
Since the Act of 1801 was passed, providing for the appointment of a Health Officer, the following M.D.'s have served in that capacity:
| Name || || Date of Appointment |
| John R. B. Rodgers || || October 5, 1803 |
| Benjamin De Witt || || March 6, 1815 |
| Joseph Bayley || || February 4, 1820 |
| John T. Harrison || || April 24, 1823 |
| John S. Westervelt || || February 25, 1822 |
| William Rockwell || || February 10, 1836 |
| A. Sidney Doane || || February 14, 1840 |
| Henry Van Hovenburgh || || February 8, 1843 |
| Alexander B. Whiteing || || January 28, 1848 |
| A. Sidney Doane || || April 4, 1850 |
| Richard L. Morris || || April 10, 1852 |
| Henry E. Bartlett || || April 21, 1854 |
| Richard H. Thompson || || April 21, 1855 |
| Alexander N. Gunn || || April 6, 1859 |
| John Swinburne || || March 19, 1864 |
| John M. Carnochan || || January 27, 1870 |
| Samuel Oakely Vanderpoel || || February 28, 1872 |
| William M. Smith * || || March 27, 1880 |
* Dr. Smith was succeeded by Dr. William T. Jenkins on February 1st, 1892. [Web Editor's Note: Dr. Jenkins was succeeded by Dr. Alvah H. Doty who served during the highest numbers of immigrants arriving at the Port of New York.]
While we are listening and reading a steamer of the Compagnie Transatlantique has come in. It is growing late, and a raw wind has arisen and blows hard over the water, while the sky has become dismally gray in tone. A merry babble of voices is borne over to us from the deck of the steamer, and the shrill, squeaking notes of a clarinet rise high above the faintly heard hubbub. They are anxious to reach the Compagnie's dock before nightfall, and the big ship steams slowly up the bay, with the small black-and-white Quarantine tug puffing along beside it. They have lost some time already, because the Portuguese steamer that came in just before them from the Azores has been subjected to a very thorough and careful examination, it having brought smallpox on its two preceding trips. But there is no more work to be done after this, as it is nearly six o'clock, at which hour the working day ends here.
It is with a feeling of relief that we get out of the damp wind at the waterside, and board the north-bound train at the Fort Wadsworth station, a quarter of a mile beyond.
But as we glide homeward on the Staten Island Ferry boat, our glance, following the impulse of the many impressions we have received, naturally turns back once more in the direction where New York has set up her wall of protection against the insidious attacks of subtle and deadly epidemics.