New York, NY Terminal Warehouse Fire, May 1902

A BIG WAREHOUSE AFIRE

Heavy Losses in the Terminal Company's Building

Goods Stored by City Firms Destroyed by Flames, Smoke, and Water---Carpet Manufacturer's Great Loss.

Three stores of the Terminal Warehouse Company, the largest of its kind in New York City occupying the entire block bounded by West Twenty-sixth and West Twenty-seventh Streets and Twelfth and Thirteenth Avenues, were yesterday morning badly damaged by a fire involving an approximate loss, it is estimated by the police, of $150,000. The exact figure could not be obtained yesterday on account of the many different concerns and individuals having goods stored in the warehouse. Some of these firms gave the damage as very much larger than the estimate of the police.

The firm of Alexander B. Smith, Sons & Co., among the largest carpet manufacturers in this country, with mills at Yonkers, are the main losers by the fire smoke and water. It was said yesterday at the New York office, Fifth Avenue and Eighteenth Street, that the loss was fully $300,000, and that in all probability it would exceed that amount. The firm had a large sale a few weeks ago, and the goods destroyed were sent here from the factory, ready for shipment to different parts of the world. It is understood that the loss is fully covered by insurance.

According to the large retailers this loss may seriously affect the carpet dealers all over the country, and may also increase the price for this class of goods, as the demand will now be considerable. The Smith company ships to New York alone 1,200 yards of carpet each day.

The part of the warehouse where the fire started is located at the Thirteenth Avenue side of the big building, the three stores occupying the space northward to Twenty-seventh Street, designated as Stores 22, 23, and 24. The origin of the fire is unknown, though in the past few years there have been several minor fires in different parts of the building. The structure is seven stories high, and brick walls separate the stores. Many large dry goods firms and those dealing in other industries have always a large quantity of goods stored in different parts of the building, and representatives of these firms were early on the scene yesterday.

About a half dozen men were at work in the part destroyed during the morning but they all escaped to the street. One of them turned in the fire alarm when the fire was discovered, and later three more alarms were sent in, bringing Chief Croker to the scene. The firemen had great difficulty in subsiding the flames, as the burning material stored within sent out enormous volumes of dense black smoke, which kept them back and clouded the neighborhood for blocks around, so that it was difficult and dangerous to stand within two blocks of the warehouse in the direction in which the wind carried the smoke.

The fireboats also steamed up the river and gave their aid. It was two hours, on account of the density of the smoke, before the firemen could get at the flames, though in the meanwhile the hose and water towers were deluging the building. It was noon before the fire was considered by Chief Croker as under control, and then the firemen began the work of throwing out the burning matter from the windows into the streets. Thousands of rolls of carpet, the most of it of the best grades, together with expensive rugs, fell into the streets, piling up during the afternoon many feet high. Police were on guard over the goods all day and last night.

Chief Croker said that as far as he could learn, the fire started in the elevator shaft and made its way to the top floor, where it spread to the lower ones. The Smith concern occupied nearly all the space of three floors.

At the office of the Terminal Warehouse Company at 88 Wall Street it was said that they could not give the total loss for some days to come, but that clerks were already at work notifying the persons and firms who had good stored in the burned sections to send in estimates.

The New York Times, New York, NY 28 May 1902

Search for more information on this disaster and other train wrecks, fires, accidents, etc. in historical newspapers in the Newspaper Archive. You just might find your ancestors in old newspaper articles. Search for your ancestors among the billions of names at ancestry.com Find death records, census images, immigration lists and genealogy other databases for your surnames. Use this Free trial to search for your ancestors. Start Your Family Tree It's FREE and easy. Start with yourself, your parents, grandparents and you're on your way to building your family history! Get Started Now and build your family tree at ancestry.com. It's Free!