Posts Tagged ‘New York City fires’

A raging fire on a freezing cold night

December 11, 2008

Everyone knows about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, the 1911 disaster that ushered in fire code reforms and workers compensation laws. But just a year later, another deadly blaze struck Manhattan: the Equitable Life Assurance (no, that’s not a typo) Building fire.










At 5 a.m. on January 10, 1912, a small basement blaze in the building at Broadway and Pine Street quickly traveled through elevator shafts and exploded into an all-consuming inferno. Every fire company south of 59th Street arrived to help. Making it especially difficult was the 20-degree temperature and 60 mile an hour winds.

As The New York Times put it that morning: “Ice seemed to form in the very air. It clogged the apparatus, rooting the pieces to the frozen streets. It settled in cloaks over the men themselves, so that they had to be chopped and thawed out from time to time that they might go on with work.”


Six men, including two firefighters, died before the fire was over. Half a billion bucks were safe in the building’s massive vaults. A new, 40-story Equitable building went up on the site and still stands today.

Hotel St. George: “absolutely fire-proof”

June 25, 2008

Hotels didn’t get more opulent than the St. George, Brooklyn Heights’ premier place to stay during the first half of the 20th century and home to various Brooklyn Dodgers. The hotel’s several buildings were put up between 1885 and 1929, when it became the largest hotel in New York City. The ballroom and saltwater pool were huge draws for locals.

A New York Times article from 2002 states that famed architect Montrose Morris designed one of the hotel’s structures—one with flag poles and a roof deck. Presumably this is it pictured below, in a turn-of-the-century ad from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Despite the assurance that it was fireproof, part of the Hotel St. George did go up in flames in 1995. By that year, after decades of deterioration, only one building was still an active hotel; several others had been sold off as co-ops, and a few remained empty.

Two of the empty structures and one apartment house burned through the night in a spectacular 16-alarm blaze.