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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Take This Fire. Please.

Take This Fire. Please.

June 29, 1916, fire at the Fox Playhouse between East 13th and 14th Streets. Tenants in the building owned by restaurateur August Luchow included the vaudeville house (showing "photo plays"), Loewinger Brothers printers, a pool hall and Greater New York Film Rental. We also see women at two of the windows. View full size. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection.

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Nitrate Film.

If this fire started on the ground floor in the Greater New York Film Rental Co., that would make sense since if it contained quantities of 35mm nitrate movie film. That was extremely flammable stuff. Once it started burning, it could not be extinguished; it would burn till it was completely consumed.


Luchow's, a favored "German" restaurant in NYC as late as the fifties and sixties, was located on East 14th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues. The article states that the building was owned by restaurateur August Luchow and that seals the deal. The picture is of 114-116 East 14th Street, the location of Luchow's Restaurant.

I don't know whether the restaurant occupied that building when the fire broke out but as the article states that the building was owned by August Luchow it makess sense to assume that it already did in 1916.

[Luchow's restaurant was in another building: 110-112 East 14th. - Dave]


"900 Leave Fox City Playhouse by Rear Exits and Fire Escapes." - New York Times, June 30, 1916. The article gives the address as 116-118 East 14th with the rear of the building on 13th, where the theatergoers made their escape.

Misleading Information?

Do you think "7/16" could represent July 16th, unspecified year, instead of July, 1916?

According to this article on New York Times Archive, "The Greater New York Film Rental Company" occupied a space at 114-116 East 14th Street as of November 9, 1913, but they were relocating to "the 7th Floor of the Leavitt Building at 126-132 West Forty-sixth Street." Assuming the address on 14th Street is accurate, Google Maps says that that location is between 3rd and 4th Avenue, right near Irving Place. Furthermore, a search of "114 E. 14th Street" turns up "City Newsreel Theatre" which is listed as "closed" on " That name, as well as "Fox's City Vaudeville" didn't come up on any of the searches I tried on the NYTimes Archive, even one stretching from 1900 to 1920.

I did all kinds of searches for fires on Thirteenth Street (they spell all the street names out in the New York Times) in July of 1916, but couldn't find one that seemed to match.

"Loewinger" comes up twice, once is an obituary in 1920, but not in relation to a fire. I can't be sure, but it looks to me like Loewinger Bros. was a "Printer," but the last word is obscured by smoke.

[The year is correct. See next comment above. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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