Dr. John Charlton (1731-1801), was a celebrated English surgeon who arrived in New York with British troops during the Revolutionary War. Following England’s defeat, Charlton remained in the newly independent colonies and became the president of the Medical Society of the State of New York.
The organization began in 1749 and struggled through the Revolutionary period due to poor organization. In 1794, Charlton reorganized the group, and by 1796, the Society had begun to influence local and state health policy. As president of the Society, Dr. Charlton fought for the inclusion of educational standards in the licensing requirements for medical practitioners. The Society provided guidance to the New York City and State governments during a series of yellow fever epidemics. The Society’s recommendations led to the creation of a permanent State Health Office that established quarantines and appointed state health commissioners.
In 1807, Trinity Church (which owned the thoroughfare) named Charlton Street for the eminent doctor who contributed to the formalization and organization of American medicine. Charlton Plaza is bounded by the Avenue of the Americas, King Street, and Charlton Street and is located in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan.