Long Island, NY Dynamite Explosion, Jan 1893


Long Island City Torn Up by a Terrific Explosion.

The Scene, a Tunnel Shaft in a Populous Block.

A terrible explosion of dynamite occurred in Long Island City, N. Y., at eight o'clock a few mornings ago, by which five persons lost their lives and some twenty or thirty persons were severely injured. The accident occurred in the works of the Long Island and New York Tunnel Company, at Jackson and Vernon avenues.
The workingmen employed by this corporation have been engaged there for a considerable time driving headings under the surface and have used great quantities of the powerful explosives in prosecuting their work.
There have been several minor explosions of dynamite at the place. Buildings have been shaken and window glass shattered, but no one until this occasion became a victim to the accidents.
The pushing of the headings has been prosecuted with vigor recently and great quantities of dynamite have been kept near the works in order to economize time in the blasting.
Residents of the neighborhood have protested against the apparent carelessness of the company, and have appealed to the authorities, but with no effect. There were nearly a hundred men who had been employed in the tunnel about an hour when an alarm came of a premature explosion.
There was a panic at once, but before anyone had time to save himself the earth shook with the explosion of dynamite and the surface of the ground in the vicinity of the tunnel rose in the air, scattering the fragments of the unfortunate persons near and the debris of the tunnel in every direction.
The flames from the explosion set fire to the large four story brick building adjoining the tunnel and shattered every pane of glass in houses for blocks about.
The dead were: MARY GRADEN, aged nineteen, Long Island City; EDWARD HOPKINS; PETER ROCCO; MRS. PETER ROCCO; HENRY O'BRIEN, aged thirty-three, clerk, Long Island City.
When the explosion occurred all the workmen were in the tunnel except ROCCO, who was placed in charge of the dynamite at the head of the tunnel. He was blown to pieces. None of the men in the tunnel were injured. The cupola of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church on Vernon avenue and Fifth street was smashed into pieces by the concussion.
Work on the tunnel has been progressing about two months. The city, it is said, has been warned time and again of the danger attending the work, but no action was taken for the protection of the residents of the neighborhood against a disaster of this character.
The fire which at first set the brick building ablaze, soon extended to the adjoining ones, whose walls had been warped and cracked by the force of the explosion, and they are now in imminent danger of falling. The tenants are supposed to have escaped with safety.
In the building which was nearest the tunnel was the post office. When the shock occurred tones of debris fell in this part of the structure and completely buried the mails. They were at once removed to No. 80 Borden avenue, where a temporary office was established.
Hundreds of people, attracted to the place by the explosion, aided the firemen in rescuing the wounded. Wagons of all kinds were used in conveying the maimed people to their homes and to St. John's Hospital. All of the doctors in the city hastened to the scene.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1893-01-06