October 13, 2009

The Great Fire

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 12:17 am

Nicole for the 6th of October 2009

The great fire in 1835 was one of the worst tragedies to happen in NYC, this fire took place in lower Manhattan. It is said that the fire was a conflagration which destroyed the New York Stock Exchange back then. The fire began on the evening of December 16 in 1835; it started in a five story warehouse around 25 Merchant Street, this street is refereed as Beaver street now, and was at the meeting of Pearl and Hanover.

During this time of year it was one of the coldest days, the temperatures where below -17* F. It was so cold that the East River was Frozen solid. The fire was so intense that it basically destroyed between five hundred and seven hundred building, it covered 50 acres of lower Manhattan. Since the river was frozen the fire men had to cut hole in the river to get water, unfortunately it was so horribly that the hoses and pipes started to freeze. The cooper and metal shutters in building started to melt in to liquid and stream down to the river.

This was such a horrific sight that the glimmer of the fire could be seen miles away, Fire men from Philadelphia came in to NYC to help. Sadly two people where killed.

Walt Whitman ‚ÄúScenes of Last Night” [April 1, 1842]

This is how Whitman describes seeing the after math of this fire.

Women carrying small bundles–men with heated and sweaty faces–little children, many of them weeping and sobbing–met us every rod or two. Then there were stacks of furniture upon the sidewalks and even in the street; puddles of water, and frequent lengths of hose-pipe endangered the pedestrian’s safety; and the hubbub, the trumpets of the engine foremen, the crackling of the flames, and the lamentations of those who were made homeless by the conflagration–all sounded louder and louder as we approached, and at last grew to one deafening din.

It was a horrible yet magnificent sight! When our eyes caught a full view of it, we beheld a space of several acres, all covered with smouldering ruins, mortar, red hot embers, piles of smoking half burnt walls–a sight to make a man’s heart sick, and keep him awake at night, when lying in his bed.

We stood on the south side of Broome street. In every direction around, except the opposite front, there was one compact mass of human flesh–upon the stoops, and along the side walks, and blocking up the street, even to the edge of where the flames were raging.


This is Stone Street today. Most of the buildings on today’s Stone Street were built in the immediate years following the fire, Greek Revival-style countinghouses that are refitted for modern times as taverns and restaurants. It’s also one of the few cobblestone streets still around in the Financial District area.


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