New York City, NY Building Collapses, Mar 1895


New York, March 2. -- The accident occurred about 3:55 o'clock in the afternoon. Without the slightest sound that might have warned the 50 men that worked near it, the central wall to the four double tenement houses being erected at 151 to 157 Orchard Street, crumbled and fell. With the wall went portions of four floors, leaving a great rent 50 feet long and 30 feet wide in the center of the buildings. It was like a pit, at the bottom of which was a mass of tangled iron and broken wood, covered many men. From that heap, in an hour, had been taken out one man dead and 12 injured.
The Dead:
The Injured:
FRANK THORNTON, badly injured.
JOHN THORNTON, badly injured.
_____ GLORIA, both legs broken.
THOMAS WILSON, head injured.
GEORGE GAMBLE, both legs broken.
JOSEPH BARBARA, left leg broken.
FRANK BARBARA, back injured.
JOSEPH MESIRE, head injured.
PATRICK FLAHERTY, leg injured.
PATRICK MALLOY, back injured.
WILLIAM MALLOY, arms bruised.
Abraham Levy, with three or four other men, got into the building and dragged out three men who were only lightly held down by the bits of wood. The second man carried out was JOHN WILSON. It could be seen that he was badly hurt. He only spoke once, when he said: "Do not tell my brother I am hurt." His brother was lying beside him when he spoke. The second brother turned to look at the one who had spoken, and as he turned JOHN gasped once and was dead.
There were 50 men working on the buildings. They were to be seven stories high, of which four stories had already been raised. Most of the men were on the fourth floor of the house No. 155. Between the front and rear of the house was a big party wall, along the side of which ran a narrow light shaft. It was the party wall that crumbled. In a heap the men went down with the falling floor. One of the bricklayers, Michael Luscles, was near a window toward the front of the house. He had just time, as the floor sank beneath him, to clutch at a window sash, and was left clinging to the frail support four stories above the ground. He managed to crawl up so as to sit on the window sill, from which position he was afterward rescued by the firemen.
Anthony Klein of Williamsburg fell the four stories, but escaped without even a scratch. He says he was carried down gently and thrown through one of the front doors into the street.
The cries of the imprisoned men could be heard on every side when the firemen came. Alarms were sent at once for additional firemen to begin removing timbers. Ten of the 12 men who were rescued early were got out with little trouble. JOSEPH BARBARA, who escaped with only a broken leg, must have escaped death by a narrow margin. He fell behind a wall, and was covered by 10 feet of bricks and plastering. But some of the wooden beams formed an enclosure about him, and the firemen heard his cries for help. It was half an hour before they could get anywhere near him. All the time they dug the man's father, Tony Barbara, worked frantically, crying loudly all the time.
The contractors are John Coomes of Astoria and Peter C. Cleaves. The owner is William F. Lennon, all of whom were arrested.
Captain Cartwright said he had made a careful examination of the building and said it was a surprise to him that the house had stood as long as it did. The mortar, he said, had been examined by an expert and is pronounced worthless. It was of the weakest sort. It was also said that the bricks were of a poor quality, that the beams were not properly supported and that the iron girders were not on stone in the walls as they should be. At the station, bail for the arrested men was refused.
The police tried to find Building Inspector Timothy J. Ormsby to learn from him why he had not reported the flimsy character of the building. They were not able to find him.

Evening Bulletin Maysville Kentucky 1895-03-02