New York, NY Tunnel Explosion, Jan 1902


New York, Jan. 27. -- The reserve supply of high explosives stored at the Park avenue shaft of the Rapid Transit tunnel, now in course of construction, blew up shortly after noon today. The giant blast killed six persons, injured a hundred others, and seriously damaged all the property reached by the flying debris and the vibration of the shock.
The irregular square formed by the Murray Hill hotel on the west, the Manhattan eye and ear hospital and the Grand Union hotel on the est and the Grand Central station on the north, was the scene of the explosion. The buildings named sustained the greatest damage, but the area extended for several blocks in the four directions from the center.
The killed were:
CYRUS ADAMS, cigar man at the Murray Hill hotel.
JAMES CARR, a waiter at the hotel.
LAWRENCE HINE, of Ansonia, Connecticut.
J. R. ROBERTSON of Nelson, British Columbia, a guest at the hotel.
RALPH THOMPSON, assistant engineer. (All outside reports seem to agree as to his death, but his body is not reported by the police or by the hospitals.)
THOMAS TUBBS, master mechanic for Contractor Ira A. Shaler.
The list of injured is an exceedingly long one, but most of those in it have only cuts caused by flying glass.
The sunken approach to the street railway tunnel used by the Madison avenue lines cuts through Park avenue, and the shaft of the rapid transit subway was run down beside it at the intersection of East Forty-first street. The street railway approach was housed over with a superstructure used for the operating plant of the rapid transit contractors. Temporary buildings for storage purposes were thrown up against the superstructure at the mouth of the shaft, and there the explosion occurred.
It tore a great gorge in the street, demolished the temporary buildings and part of the superstructure and sent a mass of earth, splintered timber and twisted iron high in the air. Much of it went battering against the front of the Murray Hill hotel, and although the walls and main structure of that building stood the shock, nearly every room in the front of the house was wrecked.
The Manhattan eye and ear hospital, on the east side of the avenue, fared nearly as bad, and had to be abandoned by the management. The Grand Union hotel lost all of its windows and glass partitions, and practically every front window in the Grant Central was shattered. The great clocks on its front towers were blown from their cases. Thousands of windows, some of them seven blocks from the tunnel shaft, fell in fragments. It was the shower of broken glass and falling debris that injured the greatest number.
Fortunately the explosion occurred at the noon hour. Not more than a hundred persons were in the main waiting room of the Grand Central station. Some of these were slightly injured by bits of glass. Four ticket sellers were cut about the heads and arms with flying debris.
The damage may exceed $1,000,000. The first estimate of the damage to the Murry Hill hotel places the loss at $100,000, but later the hotel was abandoned as unsafe. If the building is condemned the loss on it alone will approximate $1,000,000. The damage to the Grand Union was estimated at $40,000, and that to the Manhattan hospital at $25,000. The loss at the Grand Central station was entirely in glass, as was that of the hundred or more buildings afterward affected by the explosion. No estimate was made of the losses sustained by the rapid transit contractors.
MOSES EPPES, a powder man in charge of the shanty where the explosion occurred, is at Flower hospital, suffering from contusions and shocks. He said that on going to the shanty about noon he found a candle which he had left lighted on a shelf, lying on the floor, and some paper which was about it was on fire. Close to this burning paper were thirteen boxes of dynamite cartridges, each box containing from sixty to seventy-five cartridges. EPPS threw a pail of water over the fire and ran to get another. On coming back he saw the flames were close to the dynamite and dropping his pail he tried to get away. Then came the explosion and the next he knew he was a patient in the hospital.

New Castle Nonpareil Colorado 1902-01-31