A motorized fire engine draws a crowd in 1910

“New motor propelled fire engine” reads the caption of this 1910 postcard, which shows off what appears to be the Fire Department’s newest piece of equipment.

I’m not sure where we are in this image, but it looks like a handsome residential neighborhood with a bishop’s crook lamppost in the back. And as always when fire engines hit the street, a small boy stands nearby, perhaps checking out the machinery.

Postcard: MCNY/54.212.107

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10 Responses to “A motorized fire engine draws a crowd in 1910”

  1. A motorized fire engine draws a crowd in 1910 | News for New Yorkers Says:

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  3. Richard Kenyon Says:

    This fire engine appears to have electric headlights, and perhaps even an electric starter for the engine, while the other self propelled vehicle to the left of the picture has acetylene (gas) lights and no cover at all over the radiator. Wonder if it is an early bus or another piece of fire equipment.

  4. Greg Says:

    My great-grandfather was a firefighter in Brooklyn. My grandmother told me that when it was very cold they sometimes could drop the reins and the horses knew the way back to the firehouse.

  5. Bob Says:


    This postcard was made from a 1912 photograph, viewable here: https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-motor-propelled-fire-engine-the-first-motor-apparatus-engine-no-58-161375139.html

    The photograph was captioned: “Motor-Propelled fire Engine. The first motor apparatus, Engine No. 58, was placed in service March 21, 1911. Its efficiency has been such that many more have been added to the service since. The motor engine is also being adopted in every large city of the States’ (1912).”

    Provenance: “New York Illustrated”; C. Souhami, N.Y, Published by Success Postal Card Co. New York.

    Note the handwritten “58” on the postcard.


    From the photograph, the building at the right has signage “PARKW[…] HO[…]” which I think is “PARK WEST HOTEL.” According to the NY Historical Society Hotel archives (https://www.nyhistory.org/library/research/hotel-files), the Park West Hotel was located at Central Park West & 97th Street. This makes sense since Engine 58 was originally located nearby at 81 West 115th Street.


    This image (http://www.weegee.org/fire0154.jpg) shows what looks like similar equipment outside the Engine 58 Firehouse. The foreground vehicle in the original photo is apparently a “1911 Waterous pumper” and the other vehicle in the background of the original photo is a “1911 Knox hose wagon,” per “Jack Lerch (Hon. Chief of Dept.) at the Mand Library at the FDNY Fire Academy.”

    (Source: http://www.weegee.org/fire_151-160.html, Image 154).

  6. Bob Says:

    1. Another photo of Engine 58 and its firehouse.


    2. Another photo of Engine 58 (with the number 58 on the hood)


  7. David H Lippman Says:

    Central Park West and 97th? Probably hasn’t change much.

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