New York, NY Subway Explosion, Jan 1902

Rapid Transit Subway in New York the Scene of an Appalling Disaster

EIGHT PERSONS KILLED

Some of the Victims Shockingly Mutilated---Big Hotels and Other Buildings Damaged

From The Inquirer's New York Correspondent.

NEW YORK, Jan. 27.---With a roar that was heard for miles and a concussion that badly damaged two big hotels, the Murray Hill and the Grand Union, shook the walls of scores of houses and smashed windows and crockery in scores of others, two tons of dynamite exploded in the Rapid Transit subway at Park avenue and Forty-first street at noon to-day. So far as known eight men are dead as the result of the accident, sixty are more or less seriously injured, while at least a hundred are suffering from slighter wounds inflicted by falling glass.

The list of dead:

Engineer THOMAS TUBBS, at work in the tunnel and blown from there up into this street.

J. RODRICK ROBERTSON, 41 years old, killed in his room on the second or third floor of the northeast corner of the Murray Hill Hotel.

Engineer THOMPSON, at work in the tunnel, said to have walked away a few steps and dropped dead.

------PAPPEN, a laborer, at work in the tunnel.

JAMES CARR, died in Presbyterian Hospital.

CYRUS ADAMS, 75 years old, No. 38 Hamilton Terrace, cigar man in the Murray Hill Hotel.

WILLIAM F. TODD, foreman, head blown off.

JOHN WEISS, No. 244 West Forty-second street, employed at Murray Hill Hotel, skull broken. Died at Bellevue Hospital.

Like Roar of a Mighty Battery

The Murray Hill Hotel, one of the largest and most fashionable in New York, stands directly opposite the spot where at four minutes before 12 the ground was rent as by a volcano and a great burst of flame leaped into the air. Preceding this there had been two smaller concussions, but no one took any notice of them owing to the fact that constant blasting for the subway excavation has made people in the vicinity accustomed to such noises.

But the report that accompanied the volcanic outburst was different. It was as if a million cannon had been fired off at once. Park avenue is a busy thoroughfare at this point, and at the noon hour is crowded. One short block away is the Grand Central station of the New York Central Railroad. Just across the street is the Grand Union Hotel, almost as large as the Murray Hill.

Thousands of men, women and children were in the vicinity. Half and more of them were mowed to the earth as if all had been struck by one bullet. Cabs standing in front of the Grand Central station and the hotels were overturned. Street cars were derailed and one of them just turned in off of Forty-second street to the Park avenue tunnel, a block away from the explosion, was lifted bodily from the tracks, turned completely around and dropped in a half demolished condition into the street.

Big Hotels Damaged

Every window in the Murray Hill Hotel was blown out as was also every window in the Park avenue side of the Grand Union. Men and women in the offices and cafes of each were knocked over, while the occupants of the rooms were buried in the falling plaster and dismantled furniture. The glass in the front of the Grand Central station was shattered from street to roof and the clock tower so rocked and shaken that the works were warped and twisted and the hands stopped.

For five minutes after the explosion a thick black pall of smoke hung over the spot where the dynamite blew up. During one minute of that time ie[sic] seemed that the air was filled with falling bodies, tracks, broken timbers, chunks of asphalt and splintered plate glass. Two bodies were blown completely out of the subway into the street. A steam engine used for hoisting purposes was picked bodily up and thrown through a brick wall into the tunnel of the Park avenue street railway line. So terrific was the force of the concussion it is thought that the foundations of the mammoth Murray Hill Hotel were so shaken that portions, if not all, of the building may have to come down.

It is estimated that a million dollars will not make good the damage done by the explosion.

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