Monday, July 18, 2011

January 10, 1912, The Evening Telegram, Page 3,

Roosevelt Visits the City Hall,
Theodore Roosevelt was a visitor at the City Hall to-day, calling on George McAneny, Borough President of Manhattan, who is an old friend of his. Mr. Prendergast, City Controller, joined the two in Mr. McAneny's office, and Mr. Roosevelt escorted by the two city officials to the Governor's room, where he admired the paintings and shook hands with Mrs. Eliza Little, caretaker of the Governor's room for twenty years.

Mr. Roosevelt called in Mayor Gaynor's room, but, the Mayor being out at luncheon, he left his card, and hurried out, after shaking hands with acquaintances.

Unprepared to Fight Big Fire, Says Commissioner
Fire Commissioner Johnson has issued the following statement to-day:--
"That perhaps the most valuable single property in New York should be destroyed in two hours, with loss of life, will awaken residents to their true fire condition, which
I have attempted to emphasize by reiteration.

This building was an unrelated patchwork started forty- two years ago, when the paid department was in its infancy, and was known to the underwriters as 'sub-standard construction.' This simply means that the building was not fireproof, but it was permitted to exist in its hazardous condition in the face of modern fire
preventive construction.

"I suspect that when the full loss, including securities and records, is taken into consideration, it will hardly be expressed be expressed in insurance figures.

"Upon the character of the building, allowed to stand in the heart of the financial district, no comment need be made further than to say that its own employes and members of the uniformed force were trapped in it.

Erect Fireproof Structures

"The plain lesson is that the ultimate of fire prevention is to construct buildings which will not burn.

"Under the conditions which prevailed I think I may say that the work of the Fire Department in confining the fire to the Equitable Building itself was a remarkable performance. Too much cannot be said in praise of the firefighters themselves, from Chief Kenlon down, who were taking lives in their hands nearly every moment, paticularly in the splendid rescue of Mr. Giblin, president of the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company, who rushed into his place during the fire against the repeated warnings of the men, and who was trapped behind the iron bars of his front doors and windows."

Danger of Big Fire

"Persons living in New York, I fear, are under the delusion that New York will always be free from such fires as visited Chicago, Boston and Baltimore. The same fuel for conflagration which exists in those cities exists in Manhattan in the old wholesale dry goods district and in the mass of buildings in 'The Swamp,' and all the way up trhe east side, as well as in several parts of the Brooklyn water front. With weather conditions such as prevailed this morning, and with an area of highly inflammable buildings such as exist in the districts I have described, and with no barriers of fireproof buildings around them, I am somewhat fearful that history will repeat itself. If history does repeat itself it can hardlly be regarded other than a punishment for decades of cheap, shortsighted and flimsy construction.

Equipment Inadequate.

"I think the opportunity offers itself here to call attention to the New York public to the fact, which I have often presented, that the Fire Department's equipment is at present inadequate. The Board of Estimate and Apportionment has been liberal in granting money for automobile apparatus for the forty-two new buildings to be constructed, but we have not as yet succeeded in obtaining money with which to replace obolete and wornout apparatus for the old places, the age of which apparatus is from fifteen to thirty-five years. An item of $700,000 for this purpose was included in the 1913 budget, but was stricken out. I am still presenting this request and I think this old apparatus should be replaced as quickly as possible.

"I included in my departmental estimate a request of about $175,000, which I thought a proper charge, to replace annually the amount of hose put out of service. This item, too, was stricken out, and I have a request now pending before the Board of Aldermen for $300,000 of special revenue bonds to bring in an urgently needed supply of hose.

Hope to Dig Out Bodies of the Dead From Ruins To-Day,
Firemen Are Still Playing Many Streams on the Remains of the Equitable Building—Hope to Get Out Dead by Night.
(Continued from First Page.)

...shaky floors bending beneath the weight of hundreds of tons of icy debris. He sought the spot near the stairway shaft between the third and fourth floors, where Chief Walsh was last seen alive and where his comrades expect to find his body.

They found the Nassau and Cedar street sections not so badly burned as other parts of the building, but about the stairway there was a great mass of tangled masonry, plaster and twisted iron, all hidden by a coating of ice many feet deep, forming a fantastic tomb for the body of the fire fighter. To attack this at present seemed a hopeless task, and the prospect of the immediate recovery of Chief Walsh's body seemed slight.


"I have no idea that we will find the body to-day," said Chief Binns, "but of course there is always a chance. It is possible that we may have to wait for days, and may be a week, until the weather conditions change and melt the ice. Another difficulty is that we do not know exactly where he lies."

Fifty men, with picks and axes, to-day attacked the mountain of ice which barred the entrance to the wrecked offices of the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company in the hope of reaching the body of William Campion, the day captain of the vault of that company, which lies buried there under an icy winding sheet and crushed by the falling masonry, which held him a prisoner as he reached through the barred doors that held him captive.

Wreckers from the Canavan Wrecking Company we re summoned by the Fire Department to aid in removing the ice and recovering the bodies, but there was little hope of success until the cold wave abates and loosens the grip of the ice upon the ruins.


The difficulty, and danger under which the firemen and wreckers still work became more apparent this afternoon when Fire Chief Kenlon declared that the walls along the Cedar street side and at the corner of that street and Broadway were in danger of being pulled down by the tons of ice upon them. The Chief gave orders that they be shored up until such time as the wreckers decided to pull them down.

In the Arctic blasts that swept through the ruins to-day firemen still suffered severely. One of the sufferers was Joseph Rowland, of Long Island City, who was taken from the fire lines, half frozen, and sent to the offices of the Manhattan Trust Company, in the United States Realty Building, across Broadway, where he was thawed out by a big drink of hot coffee and was put to sleep on top of the big desk of the vice president of the company, Mr. Duane.


Throughout the vicinity of the fire similar odd scenes were enacted. Firemen in ice sheathed coats and helmets now occupied the offices where financiers usually conducted their business over polished mahogany, and hose nozzles were poked from office windows overlooking the ruins.

In the offices of great financial institutions near the Equitable Building business was almost suspended, owing to the difficulty of access. Their luxuriously furnished offices became headquarters where suffering firemen came for coffee and sandwiches when they could no longer face the wintry blasts.

With $1,000,000,000 worth of cash and securities tied up in the vaults, and their condition a matter of some speculation, business in the financial district was seriously hampered again to-day. Members of the New York Stock Exchange were unable to make deliveries of stock they hold, as required by the rules of the Exchange, and t he Governing Committee of that institution was again compelled to suspend the rule.


The Equitable Trust Company's temporary offices at No. 115 Broadway, were besieged by hundreds of interested persons, many of them carrying big packages or boxes of papers and other documents of a valuable nature.

"All our work is intact," said Oliver W. Krech, "and the fire will have no deterrent effect on our business. All our mail has been recovered, thanks to an efficient system, and there will be no loss, except of time, and that can be made up."

Besides the large body of uniformed men keeping the police lines, detectives have been sent to the Equitable Building to guard the contents of the huge vaults.

Police Guard Billions Buried in Fire Ruin,
Two Inspectors with 150 Bluecoats and Special Detectives Watch Equitable Vaults
Standing guard to-day over the icy ruins of the Equitable Building, which are believed to cover a billion dollars' worth of securities, was a force of one hundred and fifty policemen and detectives in charge of two inspectors, two lieutenants and
four sergeants. They kept sharp watch for thieves who might dare to venture below the Fulton street "dead line." tempted by the prospect of rich spoils in the confusion of moving of money, valuable papers and the like from offices in and adjoining the burned building.

Inspector George McCIusky had one hundred and twenty- five policeman on duty around the block of Broadway, Pine, Cedar and Nassau streets, with two lieutenants and four sergeants supervising them. Inspector Edward Hughes, uniformed head of the Detective Bureau, had twenty-five detectives scattered around the district, with instructions to keep a lookout for criminals.

Many of the detectives knew by sight most of the criminals who have been lined up in the Central Office or whose photographs are in the possession of the police Not only did they look out for sneak thieves who would take a chance of snatching a satchel filled with securities, but for pickpockets who would take advantage of the crowds around the scene.

The Police Department to-day gave notice that it would furnish a police guard to any banker or broker desirous of transferring valuable papers to places of safety.

Besides the vast amount of securities stored in the vaults of the Equitable and Mercantile Safe Deposit companies. It Is believed that several millions of dollars' worth of valuables are covered up in the ruins and have not been destroyed. It is expected that much of this property will be found after the fire is extinguished and the ruins cooled enough to permit of a search.

Again Suspend Stock Rule as Result of Big Fire
Time for Delivery of Securities Sold Before 2:15 o'clock Extended One Day, by Order of Exchange Governors—Rumor of Shutdown Is Without Foundation.

The rule of the New York Stock Exchange, requiring the delivery on the day of sale of stock bought before a quarter after two o'clock, was again suspended today because of the tangle in the financial district resulting from the burying of a vast amount of securities in the vaults of the Equitable Building.

After a special meeting of the governing committee of the exchange, it was announced that the delivery of stock might be postponed for one day, by mutual consent. The law committee has power to make a further extension of time.

Rumors that the Stock Exchange was to be closed, which were circulated while the
governors were in session, were denied. The governors stated that no such move was contemplated.

Walsh's Wife Hopes He'll Be Found Alive in Equitable Ruins,
I Won't Believe My Husband Is Dead Till It Is So Proved," Declares Devoted Spouse of Battalion Chief Lost in Fire.

With the twisted beams of the fallen floors in the Equitable Building probably forming his tomb the wife of Battalion Chief William J. Walsh refuses to believe he is dead. Since he shouted. "Men. save your selves!" while on the third floor of the building, more than twenty-four hours ago, no one has seen him or heard from him, but his wife still hopes.

"Chief Kenlon tells me not to give up hope." She said early today at the home in Borough Park, where she and the Battalion Chief lived with their six children.

"He tells me that firemen given up as lost for two days have been found alive, and not even badly hurt.

Wife Still Hopes.

"All I can say now is that Mr. Walsh is a good husband, a good father and good fireman, and I will not believe that he is dead until he is found so."

That Battalion Chief Walsh was a good fireman his medals and the stars on his sleeves showed. Chief Kenlon early today, tired, half frozen and hungry after twenty- four hours' work in the ice at the fire, added his testimony to this. The men had long been friends, their friendship dating back to the time when they were engineers together in Engine Company No. 13, seventeen years ago.

"The greatest calamity here." said KenIon, shaking himself free from some of the ice, "has been the loss of poor Walsh. God rest his soul."

"Walsh was one of the best chiefs we ever had in the department," said Edward P. Croker, when told Walsh had been lost.

Over in Walsh's headquarters, at the house of Engine No. 31. in Lafayette street, there was similar praise for him as a man and fire fighter. Said Captain Crowley. "I would put him alongside of Charlie Kruger, who was drowned at the Canal street fire. No better men have been in the department, and that's said because it is so and not because they are

Renew Search for Him.

Walsh had planned to have dinner with his family, and had promised to bring home some candy for h is youngest one, a girl of eight. On his way to his headquarters he stopped and got the candy and it still rests on his desk.

The work of searching for his body began again to-day at eight o'clock, when a crew from a wrecking company went back to work, their task having been interrupted last evening by Chief Kenlon, who feared the walls might fall.

Twice Walsh's name was on the department's roll of merit for conspicuous bravery. On July12, 1906, a team of fire horses ran away while being detached from a truck In Canal street. Walsh's right hand had been crippled in fire ten days before, but he leaped at the horses, snatched the reins with his left hand and hung on until they stopped.

On March 1, 1909, there was a fire in a paint shop at No. 197 Stanton street. Flames whistled upstairs and spread through the tenement building. Walsh, then a foreman, and the men of Hook and Ladder Company No. 18 saved so many lives that several names appeared on the roll of merit at the next accounting, and among them, of course, was Walsh's.


Some of the firemen pouring streams of water on the ruins of the Equitable Building were hurriedly called off to-day and rushed to the big office building at No. 89, Broadway, where fire had started a few moments before in a pile of rubbish in the basement. The shiftng of the fire engines caused considerable excitement in the crowd of thousands at the ruins and there was a rush of part of the throng after the fire engines.

When the firemen reached the office building they found the fire under control of employees and it was extinguished with very little loss.

Six Dead, One Missing, In Fire,
According to the list of casualties, revised to-day at Police Headquarters,
the dead, missing and Injured are as follows—

Campion, John, watchman for the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company. It is his body that is visible through the ice crusted iron grating of the safe deposit vault.
Condi, Giuseppe, address unknown, thirty-eight years old, an Italian, employed as kitchen man in Savarin's restaurant. Killed by fall from eighth floor to sidewalk. Body at Morgue.
Fratta, Massena, No. 223 East Fifty-sixth street, a porter In Savarin's. Fell from cupola at corner of Pine and Nassau streets and died of his injuries on way to Volunteer Hospital. Body taken to Morgue.
Baszlo, John, address unknown, thirty-five years old, an Italian, employed at Savarin's as kitchenman. Killed by fall from eighth floor to sidewalk. Body removed to Morgue.
Walsh, William J., Chief of the Second Battalion, living at No. 1170 Forty-second street, Brooklyn.
An unidentified man, probably employed in Savarin's. Fell into building from eighth floor.

Neider, Frank J., watchman for the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company, Melrose avenue and 153th street, the Bronx.

Banker's Rescue Wins Honor for Fireman, Indian,, Chief Kenlon Praises Larke, of Seneca Tribe, Who Sawed Bars, Freeing Mr. Giblin.
John Kenlon, Fire Chief, in a verbal report to the Fire Commissioner, Joseph Johnson, has recommended for superior conduct Seneca Larke, Jr., of Searchlight Engine No. 1. In his report the Chief says that it was due to the courageous conduct of Larke, that William Giblin, president of the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company, was rescued from the Equitable Building fire.

Previous to the rescue the Fire Commissioner, the Fire Chief and the Fire Chaplain were standing near the Broadway side of the building when they heard cries and saw Mr. Giblin imprisoned in his office making frantic appeals for help.

The first man to attempt to saw the bars was James Dunn, but after a half hour 's work he fell exhausted and Larke took his place.

Owing to the cramped position the man had to assume; with the water falling and freezing over him, it seemed that it was beyond all human endurance to remain there, but despite the orders of Mr. Johnson Larke refused to quit and succeeded in sawing through the bars, and with a last effort wrenched the bars apart. Willing hands then helped Mr. Giblin to safety.

Larke, is a Seneca Indian and was an ironworker. He was appointed to the Fire Department in 1899, and was made an engineer in 1901. He lives at Richmond, Staten Island.

Thinks Harriman Records Are Safe,
Alexander Millar, secretary of the Harriman railroads spent some time to-day in looking over the ruins of the Equitable Life Building with a view of ascertaining what prospects there were of finding the vaults and safes of the Harriman lines intact. At the new offices of the system, at No. 155 Broadway, Mr. Millar said that, from what he could observe, it was quite possible that the vault on the third floor, wherein the transfer records were kept, would be found intact without having dropped through the building.

The vault was located on the third floor, about 120 feet from Broadway, on the Cedar street aide. It was a big, substantial steel and cement structure, to which the books and records of the transfer office were stored, as well as cancelled certificates and some registered bonds.

Woman Demands Fire Inspection,
Aroused by what she considers criminal carelessness in the alleged storage of highly inflammable matter, which has been reported as the cause of the Equitable fire, Mrs. Robert Francis Cartwright, prominent worker for civic improvement and member of the Public Safety Committee of the City Federation of Woman's Clubs, has sent an appeal to the Board of Fire Underwriters, strongly urging them to cause an immediate inspection of all large city buildings in which such a catastrophe might occur.

By so doing, Mrs. Cartwrlght believes, conditions similar to those in the Equitable Building will be unearthed in many instances. Only in one way, she is sure, would the large accumulations of papers, boxes, books and other highly inflammable substance be prevented from growing to an increasingly large proportion, and that is by the most rigid inspection, followed by drastic action on the part of the proper city authorities.

Mta Cartwright, who lives at No. 839 Seventh Avenue, has been in the fore-ground in the matter of fire prevention for years. At the present time a bill is pending before the State Senate, which is largle of her instigation, calling for the establishment of a properly authoritive Fire Bureau.

Clear Ruins Quickly, Is Kenlon's Demand,

Fire Chief Kenlon this afternoon demanded that the Manhattan Bureau of Buildings act quickly In clearing the Equitable Building ruins. The Chief said he did not want a repetition of the tardy clearing which marked the recent fire in Twenty-Second Street, when bodies were found several days later, despite reports that none was in the ruins. He was assured that several inspectors were on the scene, and that workmen---a thousand, if necessary---would be kept busy on the ruins.

Chief Kenlon was particularly anxious to reach Battalion Chief Walsh's body, supposed to be under tons of debris on the third floor. Building Inspectors warned street railway workmen to keep away from the corner of Broadway and Cedar street, saying the walls were liable to fall.

Police Commissioner Waldo and William N. Crowell, Assistant Corporation Counsel assigned to the Mayor's office, made a tour of the scene to-day.

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