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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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Delta Psi: 1908

Delta Psi: 1908

New Haven, Conn., circa 1908. "Delta Psi fraternity house, Yale University." Note the Fire Alarm Telegraph Station at right. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.

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It's just amazing

The stuff you learn here on Shorpy.

A Master Box

I worked on a Gamewell municipal alarm system back in the 1980s. That system is now just history and I am retired and, thankfully, not yet just history.

Institutions frequently had boxes inside buildings that controlled a remote but nearby "Master" box, which I am guessing is what we have here. Inside the Master box was a code-wheel, a small wheel with teeth that interrupted a direct current circuit connected to a central alarm office with a pattern corresponding to the Master's number, in this case, 28.

The code wheel was turned by a spring-driven mechanism, used because a spring did not need electrical power to run. The mechanism was held in a locked position by a pin. When a user activated a box inside the building, a local direct-current circuit activated a relay inside the Master box that pulled the pin from the locking position, permitting the code-wheel to turn and tap out its number on the central alarm office circuit.

The Master typically transmitted its code three times, and then the locking pin was pushed back into the mechanism. When firefighters had finished their job they'd unlock the Master Box and rewind the spring to prepare it for its next use.

Anti-False Alarm Device?

There were at least two patented systems to discourage false alarms via telegraph boxes.
The earlier system required the person turning in the alarm to reach up through a hole in the bottom of the box to reach the trigger. When triggered, the box would handcuff you so that you could not run away before the FD arrived.
This early system was soon found to discourage people from turning in real alarms. Who would want to be handcuffed to a pole in front of a burning building?
The later system dispensed a single, portable handcuff onto the citizen's wrist - s/he could flee danger, but had to report to the F.D. to get the cuff unlocked from his/her wrist.
Perhaps some Shorpy Sleuth can research whether either of these concepts was deployed in New Haven. If not, I can't imagine how frustrating it would be to have to hunt down a key while my home burned!

Bit of a remodel, since.

The gate is still useful, though.

[More than a remodel; the building stood between 1894-1913; the gate was saved and reused. -tterrace]

Single-duct conduit

I had a feeling the piled tubes were for underground conduit and suspect that new power wires were about to be strung to provide power to the buildings were almost ready to underground in those vitreous clay pipe sections. The catalog page here is from a 1926 Western Electric Supply Catalog and shows one example that matches the conduit in the Shorpy photograph.

Pipes Perhaps

What are those short tubular objects stacked up along the street in three places?

[Portents of an impending water main or sewer line project perhaps? -tterrace]

Frat House Pranks

To minimize the temptation to trigger a false alarm they made it difficult to open the box. Hopefully those two posted locations are available 24/7 to get the key.


Fire Alarm Telegraph Station 28.

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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