Tag Archives: Accident

The General Slocum Disaster – 115 Years Ago Today

The General Slocum Steamship Disaster Wiped Out Entire Families – June 15, 1904

The New York Evening World General Slocum Cover June 15 1904 headline Over 1.000 Dead115 years ago today, a penny brought you news of a  massive calamity. It was a disaster unlike any other that had ever occurred in New York City.

Earlier that day, June 15, 1904, the General Slocum excursion boat caught fire. Women and children who comprised the majority of the passengers, were burned alive or drowned.

As news filtered in to the newspapers, the death toll continued to mount. The number of victims would rise from hundreds to over 1,000. Continue reading

In The Early 1900s Americans Celebrated the 4th Of July Exuberantly, Though It Killed & Maimed Lots Of ‘Em

At The Turn-Of The Century, 4th of July Celebrations Injured Thousands and Killed Hundreds of Revelers

4th of July Accidents - 1915 World AlmanacThis small informative chart was reprinted in the 1915 World Almanac. The Journal of the American Medical Association provided the statistics of accidents occurring during Fourth of July celebrations from 1904 – 1914.

According to the AMA the most accident prone cities were:

Pittsburgh, PA
Cincinnati, OH
Providence, RI
Worcester, MA
Syracuse, NY
Omaha, NE
Grand Rapids, MI
Hartford, CT
Reading, PA
Wilmington, DE
Des Moines, IA

In a large city, like Philadelphia, PA, 22 were killed and 422 injured on July 4, 1907. Usually the cause was fireworks related.

Do's and Don't of Fireworks New York Tribune 1908

A fireworks warning to children (who were smart enough to read a newspaper?) from The New York Tribune, 1908

Foolish acts by children causing injuries included pinning a string of firecrackers on to the back of another unsuspecting child. Another dim-witted act was throwing a lighted firecracker or shooting a roman candle at somebody. Continue reading

Losing Your Head, 19th Century Elevators That Decapitated People – 16 True Stories

Fatal Elevators In The 19th Century

In the late 19th century quite a number of people lost their heads in elevator accidents. Most press accounts of the incidents were thankfully short. But a few of the stories were described in sensationalist and sometimes sickening detail. The most common headline, “Decapitated By An Elevator,” as you’ll see, was not very original, Continue reading

Bad Luck Baby Katie – In 1904, Katie Reed Had 3 Accidents In One Week

Baby Katie and Irresponsible Parenting In 1904 

Depending upon how you look at life maybe this article should not be titled “Bad Luck Baby,Katie” but “Good Luck Baby Katie,” because Baby Katie didn’t die.

Today if you leave a young child unattended for any extended period of time and somebody reports you to the New York Office of Child and Family Services, they may eventually come around to pay you a visit.

That was not the case 100 years ago. Parents would frequently leave their children alone and bad things would happen. Generally no one interfered with poor parenting.

So if a child accidentally fell down a 20 foot flight of stairs not once, but twice within a week, you might think the child is accident prone and that’s not the parents fault.

Falling out a fourth story window is another matter altogether.

If what happened to sixteen-month-old Katie Reed in 1904 were to happen today, there would be a public outcry to remove her from her home.

This is the report from the July 30, 1904 New York Times:

” BABY KATIE ” FALLS 4 STORIES
Only Breaks a Leg—Fell Down stairs Twice Last Week.

Continue reading

Faces of Survival, Eyes of Despair – Titanic Survivors Charlotte & Marjorie Collyer

Survival and Despair In One Photograph

Marjorie Collyer Titanic survivor age 8 photo loc

This is Marjorie Lottie Collyer, age 8, of Bishopstoke, Hampshire, England.

Charlotte Collyer Titanic survivor photo loc

From the same photograph, this is Marjorie’s mother, Charlotte Collyer, age 30 also of Bishopstoke, Hampshire, England.

Both survived the sinking of the Titanic.

The utter despair in Charlotte Collyer’s eyes are apparent as she looks away from the photographer. Daughter Marjorie with her youthful eyes, stares hauntingly straight into the lens of the camera. The unknown future had to weigh heavily on these two survivors minds.

There is something strikingly modern in Marjorie’s face and expression. She looks so similar to so many children you see today.

Here is the entire photograph of Charlotte and Marjorie Collyer sitting together in June 1912.

Charlotte and Marjorie Collyer Titanic survivors photo locA Titanic White Star line blanket drapes Charlotte’s lap as the two sit on a porch swing in Payette Valley, Idaho.

Harvey Collyer, Charlotte’s husband and Marjorie’s father, went down with the Titanic, one of over 1,500 people who perished on April 15, 1912.

Harvey Collyer had sold his grocery business and the family was headed from England to New York aboard the Titanic and then on to Idaho where he intended to start a fruit farm. Harvey also hoped a change of climate would help his wife’s fragile health. When the Titanic sank, Harvey was holding all of the family’s savings in his wallet. Continue reading

This Tombstone Stopped Me In My Tracks

The Heroic Edwin Gaddis Of New York

Edwin J Gaddis Greenwood CemeteryWhen wandering through historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn it’s easy to be distracted by the grand mausoleums and elaborate memorials and pass by the more common looking tombstones.

I was struck by this simple memorial to Edwin John Gaddis who died July 23, 1883. His grave marker in section 91 of the cemetery reads as follows:

Edwin J. Gaddis,
Born October 23, 1861
Died July 23, 1883.
Drowned in Peconic Bay
Jamesport L. I.
While trying to save life
Greater love hath no man than this
That he lay down his life for his friends. John XV.13

Edwin Gaddis top tombstone Greenwood Cemetery 150811On the top of the tombstone the following words are inscribed:

Your honor, your name,
And your praises shall ever remain.
Your fame shall be eternized.

Eternized, a word not used much today means, to make eternal; immortalize.

Who was Edwin Gaddis? What was his life like? What would make someone risk (and lose) their life?  Who exactly were the people he tried to save and were they actually saved?

Besides what is etched on Gaddis’ tombstone, there is virtually no information online about his life. There were however three news items online about his death. This most complete story that answers many of the questions I asked was reported by the New York Tribune on Wednesday, July 25, 1883: Continue reading

The Restaurant Fire That Ended The Life Of Tom Stacks: The Most Unique Voice In Jazz -1936

The Tragic End of Tom Stacks, Star Crooner of The 1920’s

Tom StacksOnce you have heard Tom Stacks sing you would recognize his voice anywhere.

Tom Stacks was a tenor and a drummer appearing on hundreds of recordings in the 1920s and 1930s, primarily as a singer with Harry Reser’s band.

Stacks was a small man with an adolescent voice that sounded like he was singing with a perpetual smile.

Best demonstrating Stacks unique ability to turn a song into his own, is his rendition of a tune written by Richard Whiting and Byron Gay, Horses. If there was ever a novelty song with witty lyrics that epitomized the roaring twenties, this is it. (see lyrics at end of article)

Another song, Masculine Women and Feminine Men, a song written by Edgar Leslie and James V. Monaco seems more apropos for today rather than 1926. Continue reading

The Day A Plane Landed On The George Washington Bridge

50 Years Ago Today – How Philip Ippolito Landed His Airplane On The George Washington Bridge

Philip Ippolito and passenger Joseph Brennan Jr. walked away from this emergency plane landing on the George Washington Bridge December 26, 1965. photo: Life Magazine

Philip Ippolito and passenger Joseph Brennan Jr. made an emergency landing on the George Washington Bridge, December 26, 1965. photo: Life Magazine

The world was amazed in 2009 when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his hobbled jetliner on the Hudson River without any loss of life. It was an incredible feat of savvy piloting.

A forgotten episode of amazing aeronautical maneuvering occurred 50 years ago when on Sunday, December 26, 1965, 19-year-old Philip Ippolito of the Bronx, made a successful emergency landing on the top level of the George Washington Bridge.

Flight path of Philip Ippolito - illustration New York Times

Flight path of Philip Ippolito 1: Plane embarked 2: engine problems 3: GW Bridge – illustration New York Times

Ippolito had rented a 34 foot wide Aeronca Champion single prop plane for $10 per hour for two hours from Ramapo Valley Airport in Spring Valley, NY. He planned on a morning joy ride to visit a former flight instructor friend in Red Bank, NJ. Along with Ippolito was a friend, passenger, Joseph F. Brennan Jr., 39. The pair departed from Spring Valley at 9 a.m.

About 20 minutes into the flight at an altitude of 3,100 feet over Manhattan, the engine began to falter. Ippolito kept trying to revive the engine but it was not working. With the plane losing altitude rapidly and the engine sputtering, Ippolito looked over the icy Hudson River and thought of trying to make a water landing. He asked Brennan if he could swim to which Brennan replied, “Not a stroke.”

Ippolito quickly thought about his options on where to make an emergency landing. The New Jersey Meadowlands, which Ippolito thought would be too soft and swampy from recent rain and the George Washington Bridge looming a couple of miles ahead to the north with relatively light traffic. With no time to lose, Ippolito turned the plane around and headed for the bridge. Continue reading

A Forgotten 1915 Brooklyn Tragedy: Four Boys Die In An Accident, Shattering Two Families Forever

Two Pairs of Brothers, Together In Life And Death

100th Anniversary Of The Forgotten Brooklyn Explosion That Killed Two Sets Of Young Brothers

While wandering the bucolic grounds of the Evergreens Cemetery on the Brooklyn – Queens border you come across many interesting monuments. There are Triangle shirtwaist fire victims, General Slocum memorials and many historic notables. And then there are the monuments like this one that are inexplicable on first inspection.

Zimmer inscription monument

Zimmer inscription monument

Higgins inscription monument

Higgins inscription monument

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two sets of brothers each between 7 and 11-years-old all dying on March 13, 1915 and are buried together. This unique memorial has an angel, with a few fingers and toes missing, head bowed in sorrow, standing between the two columns that are connected at the top by a triangular stone with the Gospel of Luke quotation inscribed across it, “Suffer Little Children To Come Unto Me”.

Oil Explosion kills boys March 13 1915 memorial at Evergreens cemeteryMy first thought was that the boys were probably cousins or related in some other way and died in a house fire.

But checking the news accounts from the following days reveals a senseless tragedy of two unrelated families children just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Zimmer boys, Henry age 11 and Herbert age 7, of 186 Warwick Street and the Higgins boys, Alex age 11 and Arthur age 8 of 174 Warwick Street were close friends and neighbors growing up a few doors from each other. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #44 – Western Union Building & The Day It Caught Fire

Western Union Telegraph Building – 1880

Broadway looking south Western Union Building 1880This view looking south on Broadway was taken from the Old Post Office in 1880 and shows a deserted stretch of the usually traffic clogged thoroughfare.

The building partially seen on the right side is the Astor House Hotel. Adjacent to the Astor with the columns is St. Paul’s Chapel. The tall structure further down Broadway is Trinity Church with its spire rising 281 feet. This was the highest point in New York until the World Building was built in 1890.

The main building dominating the photo at the corner of Broadway and Dey Street is the Western Union Telegraph Building designed by architect George B. Post. At 230 feet, it was one of the tallest commercial buildings in the city when it was built from 1872-1875. To put this tremendous height in perspective, this was four times the height of the average New York building. On top of the building’s flagstaff a time ball was perched which would drop precisely at noon, so everyone in the surrounding financial area could set their watch to the correct time.

The telegraph was still the predominant way to get a message to someone quickly. To send a telegram with the body message being ten words or less from New York to Baltimore or Boston cost 25¢; to Chicago 40¢ and to San Francisco $1.00.

Western Union Building Fire - New York Evening World

Western Union Building Fire – New York Evening World

A Fire Destroys The Building

As the night shift of telegraph operators and workers was letting out at 6:55 a.m. on Friday, July 18, 1890 the Western Union Building caught fire.

The fire broke out on the 6th floor and quickly spread to the upper floors. Firefighters arrived within six minutes of the first alarm being turned in.

The fire was far above the roof lines of the adjacent buildings and the water pressure from street level could not possibly come close to the fire. The firemen strung several hoses together and carried them up  into nearby buildings on to the roofs to fight the flames.

20,000 people watched from the surrounding streets as the firemen placed ladders from the adjacent building at 8 Dey Street to rescue people trapped in the Western Union Building and pour water on to the upper floors. Continue reading