The first class of blind students were taken from an Alms house was on March 15, 1832 in the home at the home of a widow on Canal Street by Dr. John D. Russ. This date marks the first class of instruction to the blind children in the United States. The New York Institute moved to Pelham Parkway in 1924. The first day of school at the new site was on November 3, 1924 with 108 pupils.
The teachers' Building, where most of the staff was housed, was given the name William Bell Wait House in recognition of the fifty-five years of service given the Institute by that distinguished educator.
Crosby-Phelps is named after Anson G. Phelps, distinguished philanthropist and president of the Board of Managers for 25 years and Fanny J. Crosby, an early pupil of the school and then teacher, and the famous writer of hymns.
Wood - Russ is named after one of the founders of the School; Samuel Wood and John D. Russ, the first teacher of the blind in the United States.