Paterson, NJ Fire Rages Through City, Feb 1902

Car barns where the fire started. City Hall Ruins First National Bank.jpg Park Ave Baptist Church.jpg Public School No. 15 .jpg Ruins of Public Library.jpg St. Joseph Church ruins Paterson NJ View of Downtown.jpg





Paterson, N. J., Feb. 10. -- Property valued at from $7,500,000 to $10,000,000 was devoured by a conflagration that raged from midnight Saturday until late Sunday afternoon. It burned its way through the business section of the city and claimed as its own a majority of the finer structures devoted to commercial, civic, deucational and religious use, as well as scores of houses. A number of persons were injured, hundreds are homeless and thousands are left without employment. A relief movement for the care of those unsheltered and unprovided for has already been organized, and MR. GANS and Mayor HENCHCLIFFE said that Paterson would be able to care for her own without appealing to the charity of other communities and states. The great manufacturing plants of the place are safe, and the community, temporarily dazed by the calamity, has already commenced the work of reorganization and restoration.
The fire began its work of far reaching destruction at the power house of the Jersey City, Hoboken and Paterson Traction company, which fronted on Broadway and extended a block to the rear on Van Houten street. It commenced in the carshed and was burning fiercely when one of the employes detected it. It was leaping through the roof and the gale was lifting it in forks and swirls when the fire apparatus came clanging into Broadway, Main and Van Houten. The firemen tried to hem it in, but it speedily crossed Van Houten street in one direction, Main street in another, and, gaining vigor as it went, burned unchecked into the business district. Every piece of fire mechanism in the city was called out, but fire and gale were masters. A great torch of flame rose high in the air, lighting up the country for many miles and carrying a threat and warning to the people and property in its path. There were efforts to rescue furniture and stock, but the speed with which the fire moved gave the rescuers little time. Property was often moved to a place of presumed safety only to be eventually reached and destroyed. The warning to many was brief, and they were forced to flee, scantily clad, into streets glazed over with ice and swept by the keen wind.
Main street was soon arched over with a canopy of fire for a block, and then for two blocks, as the flames hurled themselves upon building after building. The firemen fought with every resource of their craft, but the flames found new avenues in Ellison and Market streets and got beyond all control. Calls for relief went out to every city in this portion of the state, and the jaded firemen labored on through the hopeless hours of the morning. The city hall, a magnificent structure, surmounted by a great clock tower, situated on Washington, Ellison and Market streets, finally caught and with it went all of the splendid business structures that surrounded it. They made a great furnace of fire that burned with a fierce roar.
There was a series of explosions and scores of walls fell when the fire left them strengthless. Flying firebrands carried the conflagration over some buildings and around others, and it therefore burned in an irregular course. These brands finally cleared the tracks of the Erie railroad and Ramapo avenue, and, alighting on Straight street, started another great area of fire, in which the destruction and desolation wrought was nearly as great as in the other.
This second great fire started at the angle of Park avenue and Washington street and swept almost unchecked until on these two thoroughfares there was no more fuel. On the right hand side of Market street it encountered Sandy Hill cemetery as a barrier to check it, but on the left hand side, at Carroll street, it claimed St. Joseph's church, a great classic stone building. It was on this second great fire that the volunteer firemen from the outside cities did their most heroic and effective work.
The final and one of the most desperate fights of the day occurred in mid-afternoon back in the first fire area, at the Hamilton club, situated at the corner of Church and Ellison streets. The handsome clubhouse caught and the exhausted firemen were rallied around it. They were anxious to save the structure, and, besides, failure meant that the fire might take new headway among the properties adjoining the clubhouse. The building was doomed, however, but a torrent of water kept the fire to the premises. The four walls of the clubhouse stood, but the roof collapsed and the inner part was completely burned out.
Scores of persons were hurt and burned, but the loss of life is not thought to be great. There are many persons supposed to be missing, but in the excitement and flight most of these are supposed to be separated from their families and friends. Until order is brought out of the chaos nothing definite can be known. What started the fire is not certain, but it is thought that one of the feed wires running into the car barns was responsible. Paterson has a population of 106,000.
The area of destruction foots up roughly 25 city blocks. The estimate of $10,000,000 damage covers the losses broadly, and this estimate may be scaled down to $8,000,000.

Properties Destroyed.
A partila list of the properties destroyed follows:
City hall, public library, old city hall, police station, No. 1 engine house, patrol stables, high schoo, school No. 10.
Churches: First Baptist, Second Presbyterian, Park Avenue Baptist, St. Mark's Episcopal, St. Joseph's Roman Catholic.
Banks: First National, Second National (partially), Paterson National, Silk City Trust, Paterson Trust.
Club houses: Young Men's Christian association, Knights of Columbus, Progress club, St. Joseph's hall, Hamilton club.
Office buildings: ROMALINE building, KATZ building, MARSHALL & BALL, COHN building, old Town Clock, old KINNE building, STEVENSON building.
Telegraph companies: Western Union, Postal Telegraph.
Theater: The Garden.
Newspapers: The Evening News, Sunday Chronicle.
QUACKENBUSH & Company, dry goods.
Boston Store, dry goods.
Globe, dry goods.
National Clothing company.
KENT'S drug store.
KINSELLA'S drug store.
MUZZY'S hardware and general merchandise.
MARSHALL & BALL clothiers.
OBERG'S grocery.
P. H. & W. G. SHIELDS' grocery.
The Patterson, dry goods.
JONES, piano store.
SAUTER & Company, pianos.
FEDER & McNAIR, shoes.
SENDLER'S confectionery.
TAPPAN'S tea store.
RAGOWSKI'S millinery.
C. E. BEACH, automobiles.
MOREHEAD & Son, clothiers.
Paterson Gas and Electric company.
SKYES drug store.
MACKINTOSH drug store.

The Piqua Daily Call Ohio 1902-02-10