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In 1903, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enacted the "Bullitt Bill", which required each county to build an maintain a facility exclusively for the care of the insane of the area. Private facilities, such as those at Friends Hospital and the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital had existed for some time. Regional state facilities, like Norristown State Hospital, were active and standing, but were found to be overcrowded and unable to accommodate the growing need. In response to this, the City of Philadelphia purchased farmland in the northeast section of the county, in a rural district then known as Byberry.