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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • CARNIVAL OF THE ARTS, 1937

Insurance Patrol: 1913

Insurance Patrol: 1913

"Auto Insurance Patrol" circa 1913 in New York City. View full size. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. What are they driving?

 

The New York Fire Patrol

The New York Fire Patrol was a salvage corps operated by the New York Underwriters Insurance corporation from the early 1800s up until about 3 or 4 years ago. They were essential the first "paid" firemen in New York city. There used to be many of these "Fire Patrol" companies throughout the city with only three remaining in modern times up until their disbanding.

The "Patrolios" worked side-by-side with the old volunteers and the present FDNY and yes they were trained firemen in the art of salvaging and overhaul, saving millions of dollars of property throughout the years.

New York was not the only city in the nation to have these types of patrols either but NYC was the last to have them as a paid corps. Arcadia books has a book on the New York City Fire Patrol that gives a great history of the organization.

Looking at this photo, I can't be certain but this truck could be one of the Knox truck chassis the NYFP purchased and mounted an old wagon body to it. I am uncertain and I'm going off a similar picture in the book I have. The NYFP was known to remount bodies on other truck chassis if they were still good to use.

Insurance Patrol

The organization was officially the Fire Insurance Patrol, but also referred to as the Fire Patrol or the Salvage Patrol. See New York Times story of January 24, 1913, about the same date as the photograph. The 'auto' refers to the means of patrol, which was new; most FDNY trucks were still horse-drawn, as the Fire Patrol had been.

High Pressure FDNY

This picture (also by Bain) is closest to the setup of the vehicle above - which would make it some sort of early fire engine. I'm not sure if this is a custom job.

Fire Patrol of New York

The Fire Patrol of New York City (which was only recently disbanded) was organized by insurance companies and had the responsibility to protect the property of policy holders in the event of a fire.

I don't think this picture

I don't think this picture has anything to do with car insurance, I think it has to do with fire insurance - buildings used to have markers on them indicating the insurance company they used.

[I bet you are right, Ron. Thanks! - Dave]

Re: Seems quite early

Not early at all. In 1913 there were 3 million cars on the roads in the United States. Below: Fifth Avenue, New York, on Easter Sunday 1913.

Seems quite early to be

Seems quite early to be requiring auto insurance.

Right Side Drive

Like the previous photo, this vehicle is also Right Side Drive?!

[Indeed it is. - Dave]

Fire Fighters?

Are these guys fire fighters for a insurance company that would only put out fires for the customers of that insurance company?

 
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