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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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Surprise: 1909

Surprise: 1909

December 20, 1909. "Firemen spraying burning building on West 14th Street, New York." 5x7 glass negative, Bain News Service. View full size.

        Three million gallons of water from the high-pressure mains were pumped into a fire that destroyed a large seven-story factory and loft building at 180-188 West Fourteenth Street yesterday morning, and for five hours the fire, which raged until the afternoon, completely cut off traffic on that street. The pavement and sidewalks and many buildings for almost a block were coated with thick mid-Winter ice. Fire and water together provided a spectacle for thousands of Christmas shoppers who crowded both sides of the street.
        Although there were no injuries from the fire, it caused damage of $200,000. Workers at the training school of the Salvation Army headquarters, adjoining the building on the east, were routed from their beds. It is not known what started the fire.

-- New York Times, 12/21/1909

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+103 With Fire

Per your request Dave...

Trolley Marooned by FIre Hoses

This must have been a fast-developing situation, because the trolley car apparently got marooned by fire hoses being stretched across the tracks both in front and behind before the car could escape the proximity of the fire premises.

This is one of the few areas in which buses have an advantage over street railways; a fire anywhere along the line instantly makes streetcar service discontinuous!

A bus can detour around the block. The street car line has to make-do with two separate segments.


The large building on the right still stands at 144 West 14th and is home to Pratt Institute as of 1999. GVSHP has some history of the building:


Below is the same view from April of 2012.

[Where's the fire? - Dave]

SHORPY OLD 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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