Other Event Detail

Great Fire of New York (1835)
New York, NY

December 16, 1835

The Great New York Fire of 1835 destroyed the New York Stock Exchange and most of the buildings on the southeast tip of Manhattan around Wall Street on December 16-17, 1835. The fire began in the evening in a five-story warehouse at 25 Merchant Street at the intersection with Pearl Street, probably caused by a burst gas pipe that was ignited by a coal stove. The city was snow covered, with gale-force winds blowing from the northwest towards the East River. With temperatures around -17?F and the East River frozen solid, firefighters had to cut holes in the ice to get water. Water then froze in the hoses and pumps. Attempts to blow up buildings in its path were thwarted by a lack of gunpowder in Manhattan. Firefighters coming to help from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania said they could see signs of the fire from there. Marines arrived with gunpowder from the Brooklyn Navy Yard around 2 a.m. and blew up buildings in the fire's path. By then it covered 50 acres - 17 blocks, destroying between 530 and 700 buildings. The losses were estimated at twenty million dollars. Only two people were killed. Since the fire occurred in the middle of an economic boom caused by the recent opening of the Erie Canal, the destroyed wooden buildings were quickly replaced by larger stone and brick ones that were less prone to widespread major fires. The fire also prompted construction of a new municipal water supply, now known as the Old Croton Aqueduct, and a reform and expansion of the fire service. As a result, this was the last great fire of New York.

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