New York, NY Crowd Stampedes at Wedding, Jun 1935

CROWD AT WEDDING STAMPEDED BY FIRE; ONE KILLED, 40 HURT

250 Rush for Exits of Hall as
Flames Start in Canopy Over
Head of Bride-to-Be

MAN DIES SAVING CHILDREN

Youngsters Cause Confusion
by Blocking Doors of St.
Mark's Place Building

SIX LEAP OUT WINDOWS

Trapped on Second Floor—Blaze
Laid to Short Circuit or a
Carelessly Tossed Cigarette

Fire that started in the canopy
beneath which the bride-to-be was
sitting, just before the wedding
ceremony was to have begun, drove
250 relatives and friends into a
stampede for the exits of a first floor
hall of The Mansion, 57 St.
Mark's Place, just before last midnight.
Before they could escape in the
crush, one man was fatally burned,
and more than forty others were
burned or injured, nineteen so seriously
that they were taken to hospitals.
The police, in an investigation
after the wedding guests had been
cleared from the building, used for
parties, dinners and celebrations,
declared that some sixty other persons,
attending a meeting on the
second floor, had been endangered
by the sudden rush of flames. Both
the first and second floors were
heavily hung -with flags, bunting
and other decorations. The fire
swept through these, rushing to the
second floor before policemen, aided
by rescue parties formed by youths
of the neighborhood, succeeded in
helping the men. women and children
to leave the burning building
through windows and by the main
entrance.

Six Leap From Second Floor

Unwilling to wait for rescuers, six
persons, trapped on the second
floor in a front cloak room, jumped
from windows to the street. Some
of these were among the injured
in the hospitals. Others, their
falls broken by an inclined awning
covering the stairway to the
first floor of the building, were not
seriously hurt.
The bride-to-be, Miss Pearl Sokolower,
daughter of Mr. and Mrs.
David Sokolower Sr. of 493 East
Houston Street, was carried from
the burning building by the bridegroom,
Louis S. Shein, son of Mr.
and Mrs. Samuel Shein of 68 Eldridge
Street. Her rescue was made
possible, survivors said, by the efforts
of several men who attacked
the flaming canopy beneath which
she had been sitting, waiting for the
ceremony to begin. She was nevertheless
so severely burned that it
was necessary for her to remain in
Bellevue Hospital.
The dead man, identified as Paul
Strieker, 21-years old, of 155 South
Seventh Street, Brooklyn, was one
of those who attempted to beat out
the flames of the canopy. Later,
witnesses declared, he made several
trips in and out of the building,
helping children to safety, and
received fatal burns in so doing.
More than 5,000 persons, drawn
by the flames and the sirens of
fire apparatus and ambulances,
gathered at the scene of the fire
within a few moments after the
flames started. In the crowd, families
became separated as they were
brought from the burning hall.
After the flames had been extinguished
without serious damage to
the building, many of the wedding
guests went to the hospitals, and
later to the scene of the blaze, in
an effort to find relatives.
The building, a four-story and
basement structure used largely for
weddings, is situated between First
and Second Avenues. Inside were
the 250 wedding guests, about a
third of them estimated by the police
to be children. These were on
the first floor, reached from the
street by a long flight of steps covered
by the sloping awning. In the
confusion following the fire, police
could not immediately learn the
name of the organization that had
rented the second floor for its meeting,
but did establish the fact that
at least fifty persons had attended
the gathering.
The canopy beneath which Miss
Sokolower was sitting, in accordance
with Jewish usage, had been
erected at the rear of the first
floor. Near the front windows,
facing St. Mark's Place, an orchestra
was playing, and the guests
were dancing while waiting for the
ceremony to begin. The children,
meanwhile, played or danced, or
scattered out into the hallway of
the building.

June 16, 1935 edition of The New York Times