Philadelphia, PA Building Collapse, Jul 1909


Fatal Accident In Crowded Street of Philadelphia


Many Narrow Escapes and Heroic Rescues – Killed and Injured Were Workmen Employed in Reconstruction Work.

Philadelphia, Pa. -- In one of the busiest sections and when thousands of pedestrians were passing the five-story brick building at the northeast corner of Eleventh and Market streets, being reconstructed for the United Gas Improvement Company, collapsed with a terrific roar, burying or pinning beneath the ruins thirty persons, seven of whom are dead, one missing, one fatally injured and twenty-four more or less seriously injured.
The dead, all of whom were workmen, were:
ALFRED DAVIS, eighteen, negro laborer;
PETER FRITZ, fifty-six, carpenter;
PAUL HANNING, forty-nine, laborer;
SIGMUND LANSBERG, twenty-three, laborer.
CHARLES LARSON, forty-five, sub-foreman of carpenters;
ALVIN _______, fifty, a Swede;
Unidentified Man, terribly mangled.
JAMES HAGGERTY, forty, was fatally injured.

All were in the employ of Sax & Abbott, contractors.

The building had a frontage of twenty-five feet on Market street and seventy-five feet on Eleventh street. The two lower floors had been torn out and the three upper floors were shored up by heavy timbers. Steel girders were bracing the shoring. It is supposed the moving of a girder loosened the entire structure.

The crash came without warning and narrow escapes were many. The roar of the collapse was heard for blocks. Bystanders and passersby fled in desperation in the belief that an explosion had occurred. When they realized what had happened they began a series of thrilling rescues. Automobiles and all sorts of vehicles were pressed into service to take the dead and injured to hospitals.

Service on the subway line on Market street which runs near the cellar of the building was tied up. Some of the debris fell into the entrance on Market street and on the platform and tracks. A woman ticket seller, terrified by the crash and shower of bricks, fainted.

Business along Market street was paralyzed. Shoppers ran out of stores and fought to get nearer the scene. The windows of the high buildings were filled with spectators. Friends and relatives of the workmen came in scores, and the women shrieked as mangled corpses were taken from the wreckage.

Many instances of heroism were witnessed. One man with a broken leg, and pinned under timbers, asked that the more seriously injured be attended first.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1909-07-23