The Great Baltimore Fire raged in Baltimore, Maryland, United States on Sunday, February 7 and Monday, February 8, 1904. 1,231 firefighters helped bring the blaze under control, both professional paid Truck and Engine companies from the Baltimore City Fire Department (B.C.F.D.) and volunteers from the surrounding counties and outlying towns of Maryland, as well as out-of-state units that arrived on the major railroads. It destroyed much of central Baltimore, including over 1,500 buildings covering an area of some 140 acres (57 ha). From North Howard Street in the west and southwest, the flames spread north through the retail shopping area as far as Fayette Street and began moving eastward, pushed along by the prevailing winds. Narrowly missing the new 1900 Circuit Courthouse (now Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse), fire passed the historic Battle Monument Square from 1815-27 at North Calvert Street, and the quarter-century old Baltimore City Hall (of 1875) on Holliday Street; and finally spread further east to the Jones Falls stream which divided the downtown business district from the old East Baltimore tightly-packed residential neighborhoods of Jonestown (also known as Old Town) and newly named "Little Italy". The fire's wide swath burned as far south as the wharves and piers lining the north side of the old "Basin" (today's "Inner Harbor") of the Northwest Branch of the Baltimore Harbor and Patapsco River facing along Pratt Street. It is considered historically the third worst conflagration in an American city, surpassed only by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Other major urban disasters that were comparable (but not fires) were the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and most recently, Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico coast in August 2005.
One reason for the fire's long duration involved the lack of national standards in firefighting equipment. Despite fire engines from nearby cities (such as Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. as well as units from New York City, Virginia, Wilmington, and Atlantic City) responding with horse-drawn pumpers, wagons and other related equipment (primitive by modern-day standards, but only steam engines were motorized in that era) carried by the railroads on flat cars and box cars, many were unable to help since their hose couplings could not fit Baltimore's fire hydrants.
Much of the destroyed area was rebuilt in relatively short order, and the city adopted a building code, stressing fireproof materials. Perhaps the greatest legacy of the fire was the impetus it gave to efforts to standardize firefighting equipment in the United States, especially hose couplings.
In centuries past, fires regularly ravaged cities, frequently destroying large areas within. Close living quarters, lax, unenforced, or non-existent building codes, and a widespread dearth of firefighting services were all contributing factors to the frequency and extent of urban fires. The rapid expansion of American cities during the nineteenth century also contributed to the danger.
In addition, firefighting practices and equipment were largely unstandardized: each city had its own system. As time passed, these cities invested more in the systems that they already had, increasing the costs of any conversion. In addition, early equipment was often patented by its manufacturer. By 1903, over 600 sizes and variations of fire hose couplings existed in the United States. Despite efforts to establish standards being made since the 1870s, they had little effect: no city wanted to abandon its system, few saw any reason to adopt standards, and equipment manufacturers did not want competition.
Fire was reported first at the John Hurst and Company building on West German Street at Hopkins Place (modern site at the southwest corner of the Baltimore Civic Center of 1962, currently the Royal Farms Arena) in the western part of downtown Baltimore at 10:48 a.m. on Sunday, February 7, and quickly spread. Soon, it became apparent that the fire was outstripping the ability of the city's firefighting resources to fight it, and calls for help were telegraphed to other cities. By 1:30 p.m., units from Washington, D.C. were arriving on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at Camden Street Station. To halt the fire, officials decided to use a firebreak, and dynamited buildings around the existing fire. This tactic, however, proved unsuccessful. Not until 5:00 p.m. the next day was the fire brought under control, after burning for thirty hours.
One reason for the fire's duration was the lack of national standards in firefighting equipment. Fire crews and fire engines came from as far away as Philadelphia and Washington that day (units from New York City were on the way, but blocked by a train accident; they arrived the next day - Monday, February 8). The crews brought their own equipment. Most could only watch helplessly after discovering that their hoses could not connect to Baltimore's gauge size of water hydrants.Though a machine shop in the Locust Point area of the city did start making coupling rings to overcome this problem. High winds and freezing temperatures further contributed to the fire's extent and firefighters' difficulties. As a result, the fire burned over 30 hours, destroying 1,545 buildings spanning 70 city blocks—amounting to over 140 acres (57 ha).
While Baltimore was criticized for its hydrants, this problem was not unique to Baltimore. During that era, American cities had more than six hundred different sizes and variations of fire hose couplings." As outside firefighters returned to their home cities, newspapers published interviews that condemned Baltimore and exaggerated locals' response during the crisis. In addition, many newspapers published accounts by travelers who, in actuality, had only seen the fire as their trains passed through Baltimore. Nonetheless, the responding agencies and their equipment did prove useful, since the uncouplable hoses only represented a small part of the transported equipment. Ultimately, the tragedy led to the standardization of hydrants nationwide.
In addition to firefighters, outside police officers, as well as the Maryland National Guard and the Naval Brigade, were utilized during the fire to maintain order and protect the city. Police and soldiers not only kept looters away, but also prevented civilians from inadvertently interfering with firefighting efforts. The Naval Brigade secured the waterfront and waterways to keep spectators away. Officers from Philadelphia and New York also assisted the City Police Department.
Thomas Albert Lurz (b. January 9, 1874), a Baltimore native and letter carrier with the U.S. Post Office, rescued tons of mail from the burning Central Post Office on the east side of Battle Monument Square, on North Calvert Street, between East Lexington and Fayette Streets. Lurz gathered a group of men who loaded bags of mail onto horse–drawn wagons, took them to North and Pennsylvania Avenues, and stood guard until the Maryland National Guard arrived (for which he later received a commendation). Meanwhile, back at the General Post Office, employees kept spraying water on the building's sides and roof and were able to minimize damage and save the 1889 Italian Renaissance edifice with its nine towers and central tall clock tower (later razed and replaced by the current 1932 building, later converted to city use as Courthouse East).
In the aftermath, 35,000 people were left unemployed. Over $150 million (in 1904 USD) worth of damage was done, which is approximately $3.84 billion in 2014 dollars.
Immediately after the fire, The Baltimore News quoted Mayor Robert McLane: "To suppose that the spirit of our people will not rise to the occasion is to suppose that our people are not genuine Americans. We shall make the fire of 1904 a landmark not of decline but of progress." McLane then refused assistance, "As head of this municipality, I cannot help but feel gratified by the sympathy and the offers of practical assistance which have been tendered to us. To them I have in general terms replied, 'Baltimore will take care of its own, thank you.'"
Most agreed that the Great Fire directly caused no deaths. An autobiography written by Alice Mae Cawthorne tells of a couple named Mr. and Mrs. Chambre who lost their twin daughters in the Baltimore fire. There are also reports of a merchant suffering a heart attack while evacuating goods from his store. It may be that deaths were not recorded accurately. In 1907 a bronze historical marker was placed next to the main western entrance (on the left) of the old "Wholesale Fish Market" constructed on Market Place (between East Baltimore and Lombard Streets as one of three new adjoining Centre Market structures replacing the old burned second "Centre Market" building and Maryland Institute of 1851) to commemorate "The Great Fire". Since the late 1980s, the structure has been renamed the Port Discovery children's museum. This major commemorative tablet reads "Lives Lost: None." However, a recently rediscovered newspaper story from The Sun tells of the charred remains of a "colored man" being pulled, almost two weeks after the fire, from the harbor basin, near the modern Inner Harbor area USS Constellation Dock (old Pier 2, now named for the resident historic Civil War-era sailing frigate).
Five lost lives were indirectly attributed to the fire. Two members of the 4th Regiment of the Maryland National Guard, Private John Undutch of Company 'F', and Second Lieutenant John V. Richardson of Company 'E', both fell ill and died of pneumonia. Fireman Mark Kelly and Fire Lieutenant John A. McKnew also died of pneumonia and tuberculosis due to exposure during the Great Fire. Martin Mullin, the proprietor of Mullin's Hotel (on the northwest corner of West Baltimore and North Liberty Streets, above Hopkins Place), a block away to the north from the John E. Hurst Building where the fire started, also later died.
As well, McLane's suicide later that year was attributed by some of his contemporaries to the stress of post-fire reconstruction.
As a result of the fire, Baltimore finally adopted a city building code after seventeen nights of hearings and multiple City Council reviews. The city's downtown "Burnt District" was rebuilt using more fireproof materials, such as granite pavers. Public pressure, coupled with demands of companies insuring the newly re-built buildings, spurred the effort.
The National Fire Protection Association adopted a national standard for fire hydrant and hose connections. However, inertia remained. Conversion was slow and still remains incomplete. One hundred years after the Baltimore Fire, only 18 of the 48 most populous American cities were reported to have national standard fire hydrants. Hose incompatibility contributed to the Oakland Firestorm of 1991: although the standard hose coupling has 2.5 inches (64 mm) diameter, Oakland's hydrants had 3-inch (76 mm) couplings.
H. L. Mencken, future famed columnist/commentator/author and linguist, survived the fire at the beginning of his blossoming journalism and literary career, but the offices of his newspaper, the Baltimore Herald (at the northwest corner of St. Paul and East Fayette Streets), were destroyed on the northern edge of the "Burnt District". Mencken related the fire and its aftermath near the end of the second volume of his autobiographical trilogy, Newspaper Days: 1899-1906, published 1941, "When I came out of it at last I was a settled and indeed almost a middle-aged man, spavined by responsibility and aching in every sinew, but I went into it a boy, and it was the hot gas of youth that kept me going."
The Herald printed an edition the first night of the fire on the press of The Washington Post, in exchange for providing photographs to The Post, but could not continue this arrangement because of a long-standing arrangement between The Washington Post and the Baltimore Evening News. For the next five weeks The Herald was printed nightly on the press of the Philadelphia Evening Telegraph and transported 100 miles (160 km) to Baltimore on a special train, provided free of charge by the B&O Railroad. The fire also devastated the city's other major newspapers, including The Sun with its famous "Iron Building", considered the forerunner of modern steel skyscrapers, built 1851 at East Baltimore Street. Across the intersecting South Street-Guilford Avenue was the publishing headquarters of the Baltimore Evening News, founded 1871 and built in 1873 with its mansard roof and corner clock tower. Baltimore's oldest news publication, The Baltimore American (dating back to 1773 or 1796 by various accounts and owned and published by local civic titan, General Felix Agnus), was also burnt out of its offices and forced to have papers printed out-of-town and shipped back by train.
The "Box 414 Association", which has assisted the Baltimore City Fire Department for many years, acts like a local American Red Cross, or military United Service Organization (USO), sending refreshments and break-time trucks to the sites of major alarms and fires to provide exhausted firefighters some comfort and snacks. It is named after the first alarm box pulled on the morning of Sunday, February 7, 1904.
The BCFD memorializes the fire annually at the bronze statue of a firefighter at the Department's old headquarters, facing City Hall, the War Memorial Building and the broad ceremonial plaza in between at East Lexington and North Gay Streets. Observances are also held at the closest street corner to the Great Fire's beginnings at South Howard and West Lombard Streets alongside the old Civic Center/Arena. The Maryland Historical Society commemorated the fire's centennial in 2004 with a website, two books and various events, lectures, and tours through the auspices of the Fire Museum of Maryland on York Road in Lutherville-Timonium-Cockeysville in Baltimore County. Several commemorative stories and special sections were published during the month in Baltimore's only remaining daily newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, and the four local television stations' and several documentaries and interviews/discussion programs on the city's public radio network (NPR) station, WYPR-FM, also commemorated the event.
More recently, the Baltimore-based rock band J Roddy Walston and the Business memorialized the fire in "Nineteen Ought Four", on their album Hail Mega Boys.
chronicles major fires and events only synonymous to the City of Baltimore like the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904
The 1852 Democratic National Convention nominated the dark horse candidate Franklin Pierce for President on the 49th ballot, passing over better known candidates Lewis Cass of Michigan (the previous nominee in 1848), James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, and Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. It was held at the Maryland Institute in the eastern downtown business district of Baltimore, Maryland, just two weeks before the opposing Whig Party met in the same hall for their nominating convention.
This convention was notable for the hostility between several groups within the party, divided over the "Compromise of 1850". The convention was called to order by Democratic National Committee chairman Benjamin F. Hallett. Romulus M. Saunders served as the temporary convention chairman and John W. Davis served as the permanent convention president.Baldwin
Baldwin is a Germanic name, composed of the elements bald "bold" and win "friend".Baltimore News-American
The Baltimore News-American was a Baltimore broadsheet newspaper with a continuous lineage (in various forms) of more than 200 years of Baltimore newspapers. For much of the mid-20th century, it had the largest circulation in the city. Its final edition was published on May 27, 1986.Baltimore Stock Exchange
Not to be confused with The Baltimore Exchange, a newspaperThe Baltimore Stock Exchange was a regional stock exchange based in Baltimore, Maryland. Opened prior to 1881, The exchange's building was destroyed by the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, and was then located at 210 East Redwood Street in Baltimore's old financial district. In 1918, the exchange had 87 members, with six or seven members at the time serving the United States in World War I. The Baltimore Stock Exchange was acquired by the Philadelphia Stock Exchange in 1949, becoming the Philadelphia-Baltimore Stock Exchange. The Baltimore Stock Exchange Building was sold and renamed the Totman Building.Besides, Nothing (B-Sides and Rarities, 2003–2009)
Besides, Nothing (B-Sides and Rarities, 2003–2009) is a two-disc rarities compilation released under the name PlayRadioPlay! (now Analog Rebellion). It was released alongside Analog Rebellion's Ancient Electrons on January 26, 2010.The album cover was released on his Facebook page on December 22, 2009.Gay Street (Baltimore)
Gay Street is a street in Baltimore, Maryland that gets its name from Nicholas Ruxton Gay, who surveyed the area in 1747. It begins at the intersection of East Pratt Street near the Baltimore World Trade Center (at the Inner Harbor) and proceeds north and east through Baltimore until it crosses Orleans Street (U.S. Route 40) and becomes Ensor Street. According to the Baltimore City web site, the Gay Street corridor escaped the Great Baltimore Fire in 1904.
Urban development in the 1970s essentially cut Gay Street in half in east Baltimore. Old Town Mall, a retail strip that
spans from Orleans to Aisquith and Monument Streets, was converted from a working street to a pedestrian mall. The street from that point north to Chase Street was essentially paved over, and the land was fitted into the surrounding street grid. Despite the rebuild, there are still a few housing units in the area that still follow the angular path that Gay Street cut through the neighborhood. Just north of Monument Street next to the Cain athletic field, there is a well-worn pedestrian path that follows the old route of Gay Street in defiance of the grass and meandering concrete sidewalk that borders the park.
Gay Street continues north from Chase, is briefly cut by the recently rebuilt (2000s) median of Broadway, then continues up to (and ends at) North Avenue, also known as U.S. Route 1 and U.S. Route 40 Truck through Baltimore city.Henry Fite House
The "Henry Fite House", located on West Baltimore Street (then known as Market Street), between South Sharp and North Liberty Streets (also later known as Hopkins Place), in Baltimore, Maryland, was the meeting site of the Second Continental Congress from December 20, 1776 until February 22, 1777. Built as a tavern around 1770 in Georgian architectural style in red brick with white wood trim in by Henry Fite (1722–1789), the building later became known as "Congress Hall" during its brief use by Congress six years later, and later following the American Revolutionary War in local history as "Old Congress Hall". It was destroyed 127 years later by the Great Baltimore Fire on Sunday and Monday, February 7–8, 1904, which started a block to the southwest at North Liberty (east of North Howard) and German (later West Redwood) Streets at the John E. Hurst Company building (dry goods) and swept north to Fayette Street and finally to the east to the Jones Falls, burning most of the downtown central business district and waterfront, of which only a few modern "fire-proof" skyscrapers recently built, though with burned interiors, had enough steel structural support left to save, rebuild and restore later.History of Maryland
The recorded history of Maryland dates back to the beginning of European exploration, starting with the Venetian John Cabot, who explored the coast of North America for the Kingdom of England in 1498. After European settlements had been made to the south and north, the colonial Province of Maryland was granted by King Charles I to Sir George Calvert (1579–1632), his former Secretary of State in 1632, for settlement beginning in March 1634. It was notable for having been established with religious freedom for Roman Catholics, since Calvert had publicly converted to that faith. Like other colonies and settlements of the Chesapeake Bay region, its economy was soon based on tobacco as a commodity crop, highly prized among the English, cultivated primarily by African slave labor, although many young people came from Britain sent as indentured servants or criminal prisoners in the early years.
In 1781, during the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), Maryland became the thirteenth state of the United States to ratify the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. They were drawn up by a committee of the Second Continental Congress (1775–1781), which began shortly after the adoption of a Declaration of Independence in July 1776, through to 1778. Later that year, these Articles were recommended to the newly independent sovereign states via their legislatures for the required unanimous ratification. This long process was held up for three years by objections from smaller states led by Maryland until certain issues and principles over the western lands beyond the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River. These objections were resolved with the larger states agreeing to cede their various western claims to the authority of the new Congress of the Confederation, representing all the states, to be held in common for the laying out and erection of new states out of the jointly held Federal territories. Maryland then finally agreed to join the new American confederation by being one of the last of the former colonies ratifying the long proposed Articles in 1781, when they took effect.
Later that same decade, Maryland became the seventh state to ratify the stronger government structure proposed in the new U.S. Constitution in 1788.
After the Revolutionary War, numerous Maryland planters freed their slaves as the economy changed. Baltimore grew to become one of the largest cities on the eastern seaboard, and a major economic force in the country. Although Maryland was still a slave state in 1860, by that time nearly half of the African American population was already free, due mostly to manumissions after the American Revolution. Maryland was among the four divided border states that officially remained in the Union during the American Civil War (1861–1865), although large numbers of Marylanders "went south" to fight for the seceded Confederacy.John Hanson Thomas Jerome
John Hanson Thomas Jerome (c. 1816–1863) was Mayor of Baltimore from 1850–1852.List of American films of 1904
A list of American films released in 1904.One Calvert Plaza
One Calvert Plaza, formerly the Continental Trust Company Building, is a historic 16-story, 76 m (249 ft) skyscraper in Baltimore, Maryland. The Beaux-Arts, early modern office building was constructed with steel structural members clad with terra cotta fireproofing and tile-arch floors. Its namesake was chartered in 1898 and instrumental in merging several Baltimore light and gas companies into one citywide system (known as the "Consolidated Gas, Light, Electric Power Company of Baltimore City" until 1955 when it was shortened and renamed the "Baltimore Gas and Electric Company"). It was constructed in 1900-1901 to designs prepared by D.H. Burnham and Company of Chicago and is a survivor of the Great Baltimore Fire of February 1904, that destroyed more than 100 acres (40 ha) in the present downtown financial district. When it was built in 1901, it was then the tallest building in Baltimore, and it kept that title until being surpassed by the iconic Bromo-Seltzer Tower of the Emerson Drug Company on the northeast corner of West Lombard and South Eutaw Streets on the downtown west side. Led by Capt. Isaac Edward Emerson, (1859-1931), the inventor of the stomach remedy and antacid, "Bromo-Seltzer" in 1911.
Continental Trust Company Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. It is within the Baltimore National Heritage Area.Orange Grove, Maryland
Orange Grove was a town straddling the Patapsco river in Howard County and Baltimore County Maryland, United States
The Orange Grove area was the site of two parallel roads running along the Patapsco river settled by the Elliotts in 1762. The road to then North was referred to as "George Washington's Gun Road" as the path of General Lafayette's troops en route to the battle of Yorktown. In 1856, the land was sold by George Elliot for $9,000 to George Worthington and George Baily. They started a construction of a six story mill and sold the property to C.A Gambrill for $45,000. The Gamrill Mill was renamed to Orange Grove producing "Patpasco Superlative Patent" and "Orange Grove" flour. Citizens lived on the Howard County side, using a rope bridge to travel to the mill and B&O railroad siding. In 1869, the mill was purchased by R.G. and P.H. MacGill keeping the name C.A. Gambill & Company, who added steam power in 1873 and modern rollers in 1879. In 1898, the Orange Grove school opened. In 1904, ice stacked up, tearing down the bridge. The same year, the company owned Phoenix mill burned in the great Baltimore fire. On 6 May 1905, the mill and train station burned in a fire started in the engine room monitored by George W. Carr. The town did not recover, and the ruins are part of the Patapsco State Park with a modern suspended bridge along the trail.Robert McLane
Robert Milligan McLane (November 30, 1867 – May 30, 1904) was the Mayor of Baltimore from May 19, 1903 to his death on May 30, 1904. He is known for his role in the Great Baltimore Fire, and for his sudden death in office.United Railways and Electric Company
The United Railways and Electric Company was a street railway company in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area of the U.S. state of Maryland from 1899 to 1935.In 1900, the company built the Power Plant in Baltimore's Inner Harbor to provide electrical power to the system. The system suffered extensive damage during the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, but the company rebuilt under the supervision of its President, John Mifflin Hood.United Railways declared bankruptcy in 1933. The company was reorganized in 1935 as the Baltimore Transit Company. In 1970 the transit company was absortbed into the Maryland Transit Administration, a public agency.William H. Rau
William Herman Rau (January 19, 1855 – November 19, 1920) was an American photographer, active primarily in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. He is best remembered for his stereo cards of sites around the world, and for his panoramic photographs of sites along the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was official photographer of the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, and of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland in 1905. His work is now included in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution and the Getty Museum.