Sunday, November 15, 2015

Star Theater Fire

Today's picture shows firemen fighting the Star Theater Fire on Broadway. The picture was taken in 1893. I am surprised to see at this date it looks like they already were using Fire Hydrants.


  1. Do you mean fire hydrants as we know them, on the sidewalk? That may be what's in the central foreground, with water around it. But it's not easy to tell, given the size of the picture.. Fire hydrants require underground pipes, and if any place in the country had hydrants, I'd expect it to be Broadway. Sewer pipes and water mains made of sections of hollowed out logs joined together have been found in that neighborhood going back to the late 17th c. Re-purposing some water mains for fire control would be possible by the late 19th c. Fire was a dreadful scourge in large cities that were mainly wood. The rest of the picture shows stone or brick buildings, but those buildings look to be 19th c. buildings, and may be re-builds over earlier wooden buildings after earlier fires. Googing fire hydrant history, I discovered that they were invented around 1830, and were in use in Cincinnati and Philadelphia well before 1890. So I'm pretty sure some would have been in New York City, especially in areas like Broadway, by 1893. What interesting subjects you bring us! I also see, in this picture, a tank on the fire engine itself. I wonder if that's for backup, just in case they're in areas without hydrants?

  2. That's where the derived the term Steamering the Hydrant, still used today.


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