This account of the devastating New York City fire of 1835 that led to the construction of the Croton Dam and Aqueduct is from a wonderful blog, Ephemeral New York, which chronicles “a constantly reinvented city through photos, newspaper archives, and other scraps and artifacts that have been edged into New York’s collective remainder bin” remembering the “forgotten people, places, and relics of the way New Yorkers used to live.”
It started on the frigid night of December 16. Flames broke out inside a warehouse on Pearl Street, the center of New York’s dry-goods district.
“The city’s undermanned volunteer fire brigades rushed to the scene, but what little water could be pumped from the nearby hydrants turned to ice in the frigid night air, and the crews—exhausted from fighting a blaze the night before—were soon completely overwhelmed,” wrote Ric Burns and James Sanders in New York: An Illustrated History.
[Above: the fire as seen from Williamsburg, by Nicolino Calyo]
With help from strong winds, flames leaped from shops to warehouses to the majestic Merchants Exchange (below, in a 1909 illustration).
Within hours, 20 blocks and 600 buildings bounded by South, Broad, and Wall Streets and Coenties Slip, were ablaze.
New York had experienced devastating fires before, particularly in 1776. This fire was something else though—so intense, it could reportedly…
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