New York, NY Elevated Train Wreck, Mar 1887


Many Men Swept From the New York Elevated Railroad.

Hurled Into the Street While Walking on the Track.

The most serious accident that has ever occurred on the line of the Elevated road in New York City since the first rail of that structure was laid happened at forty minutes past 6 o'clock Tuesday morning on the Third avenue road between Fourteenth and Fifteenth streets. At that time a fire was raging in the store of Nicoll, the tailor, on the Bowery, and the cars were blockaded from Broome street to Sixty-fifth street, a distance of over three miles. At this hour in the morning the East side Elevated trains are filled for the most part with laboring men and artisans on their way to their daily work, and the loss of time caused by the blockade was a serious delay to them. At length, wearying of waiting, a crowd of passengers left the train nearest the Fourteenth street station, and started down the footpath to the station platform. Some of the more timid men crawled on their hands and knees along the trestle work, while others, bolder and more impatient, walked upright. A few had gained the platform when the blockade was raised and the train started in motion.
When the train started, the gatemen closed their gates to prevent any more passengers from getting down. But one of those who had already left the train – a half-grown boy whose name is not known – thinking to resume his ride, caught at the platform between the first and second cars, and attempted to get on. The train was in motion, and the engine was abreast of the station. The platform at which he caught was twenty or thirty feet north of the northerly end of the station platform. He caught hold of the closed gate, and found lodgment for one foot on the iron step under the edge of the platform. In this position his body was bent, extending outward over the narrow and crowded track walk. In a moment he came in collision with a large and elderly man, now supposed to be JUDAS SINAI, the aged Polander who was killed. This man clutched a third and with a united cry the three went over falling to the pavement in a heap. The boy held on and ________ men down.
The cries of these men created a panic among those on the walk between them and the station and a rush was made along the narrow talk to the platform for safety.
As nearly as can be determined, the first three men were crowded from the walk, eighteen or twenty feet north of the station. From that point to the station the track walk was full of people. Those nearest the station caught at the railing and endeavored to climb up and over it. Those behind crowded upon and pulled at them. Those still further back shouted and pushed and struggled to get on, imperiling the lives of all by their frantic haste. And in this wild scramble on that narrow and unguarded foot-way seven were forced off, falling to the street below. The boy who had begun the mischief let go and joined the crowd on the platform. He got off safe.
When the train came to a standstill and the panic was in a measure checked, two hideous piles of bruised and helpless humanity lay in the street below. Just in front of ________ Oyster house was a pile of three bodies, nearly motionless, and with only a slight muscular movement observable in it. Two of these bodies were SINAI and MATTHEWS. About twenty feet further down the street and just beneath the point where the overhead structure widens to form the station platform, was another pile, more scattered and struggling than the first, as it contained the greater number of bodies, there being seven in it. These had fallen originally one upon the other, but those falling on top being less seriously injured than those beneath, twisted, and rolled and worked themselves off until they were scattered upon the muddy pavement. But the horrible picture remained only a moment in view. Before all its details could be observed a score of willing workers were gathering up the bodies and conveying them to the sidewalk. Three men were dead, and a fourth died at the hospital in the afternoon. Six men were dangerously injured.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1887-03-11