100 Years Ago

NEW YORK CITY: JAN 1, 1910 — Just as the clock struck midnight and the New Year began, a voice rose from the crowd gathered at 26th Street and Broadway in Manhattan: "Look! Look there!" All eyes went to a tongue of flames that climbed the lace...


NEW YORK CITY: JAN 1, 1910 — Just as the clock struck midnight and the New Year began, a voice rose from the crowd gathered at 26th Street and Broadway in Manhattan: "Look! Look there!" All eyes went to a tongue of flames that climbed the lace curtains in a third-floor-apartment window. As the...


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TRENTON, NJ: JAN. 13, 1910 — The coolness of a Trenton Theatre employee prevented a possible catastrophe when he discovered a fire burning in the cellar beneath a full house of more than 2,000 people watching a vaudeville show. James Clancy took the stage during the last act and calmly told the crowd there was a problem with the lights and that they would have to be shut off in several minutes, and then asked everyone to leave the hall. As they were calmly exiting the theater, a young boy became aware of the smoky fire and dashed toward the exiting throng ready to scream "Fire!" Before he could get close enough an usher grabbed him and hurled him in the opposite direction. The crowd evacuated and firemen quickly extinguished the fire.

CONSTANTINOPLE (now ISTANBUL), TURKEY: JAN. 19, 1910:— The Ciragan Palace, the meeting place of the Turkish Parliament, was destroyed by a fire that started shortly before noon. The elaborate palace, built by Sultan Abdulaziz, was completed in 1867 with inner walls and the roof made of wood and the outer walls of colorful marble. The palace is connected by a marble bridge to the Yildiz (Sun) Palace on the hill behind. A high garden wall protects the palace from the outer world. The fire, started by a defective heating unit between the sultan's private apartments and the Chamber of Deputies area, was fanned by strong winds and was soon out of control. Little was saved and the damage to the building alone was estimated at $16 million.

PHILADELPHIA, PA: JAN. 19, 1910 — A fire originating in an elevator motor trapped men and women working in a factory on the fourth floor at 210 Chancellor St. near Walnut Street. The flames drove the people working on the top floor, a shirtwaist firm, to the windows, where they screamed for help. Before fire units could arrive, the hysterical people began jumping. Men on the street below scrambled to find blankets and attempted to catch the jumpers. In all, four women and one man died from their leaps and four others were in critical condition with injuries and burns.

PAUL HASHAGEN, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a retired FDNY firefighter who was assigned to Rescue Company 1 in Manhattan. He is also an ex-chief of the Freeport, NY, Fire Department. Hashagen is the author of FDNY 1865–2000: Millennium Book, a history of the New York City Fire Department, and other fire service history books.