Monday, September 12, 2011

A Piece of the Mansard from the Equitable Building

I was always curious about this piece of structural iron which underpinned a section of the Mansard roof (that would be the third version of the roof, circa 1887)
It's one of the few recognizable elements of debris.

However, after they cleaned the site up for inspection (just as they did at the Pentagon after September 11th) they left a stretch of iron framing where I count seven rectangular openings---but not the original length, which had eleven openings. Why would they take some and leave a section? HOW could they do it?

Then I realized it reminded me of this stretch of fire escape after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

Crowds of young women who made it out onto the fire escape perished when it gave way under their weight.

It's not so hard to find the bodies at some fires.

Today I transcribed 10,114 words from the January 9, 1912, Final Edition of The Evening Telegram,

You can find the transcript here:

But one brief article provided a single-source verification for something I'd known all along.

Page 3, (Column 7)

The Evening Telegram, January 9, 1912, Find Too Late That Victim Still Lived,
Believed to be dead, a man, supposed from a card in his pocket, to have been Massina Fratta, of No. 275 East Fifty-sixth street, lay two hours in the street amid the confusion of the Equitable Building fire to-day before Dr. Savage, of St. Gregory's Volunteer Hospital, discovered signs of life and hurried him into an ambulance. He died on the way to the hospital.
Hundreds of firemen, policemen and others ran to and fro past the man, who had been knocked off a ladder by falling debris and left where he fell, because every one believed him dead. Both legs were broken and he had suffered internal injuries. The dead man's trousers leg had a stripe down one side, and the police believed he was an employee in the burned building.
The fake narrative of the January 9, 1912, Equitable Building fire originated several stereotypes used with the later September 11th, 2001 building collapses.

One, like Battalion Chief Walsh, is a classic case of prepared hero ready to meet his media death. Unfortunately, not a single element of his fire-fighting story makes a bit of sense to me as a layman, and if you're a fire professional and you believe in it--than God help you.

Missing from the narrative is Captain Bass, who died in a sanitarium several months after the fire from a blow he had received to the back of the head. However, his sacrifice continued to be ignored, while his putative rescuers receive medals and commendations and media publicity.

But in the era before CGI, sometimes you just have to kill a few "innocents" to set the mood. The value of an immigrant's life is pretty clear in 1912. All the narrative elements concerning the three "kitchen workers" who died after falls from the roof or upper stories, points to being examples of cold blooded murder. I just never thought I'd find something published in that era's mainstream media that could make my case so elegantly.

Touché Evening Telegram.

This is the way the January 10, 1912, New-York Tribune put it, in "Biggest Fire in Years Destroys Equitable's Home,"
Seven o'clock saw the climax of the fire. Then it was that the roof and upper floors began to fall and carry with them the lower floors, accounting for the loss of Chief Walsh and also for the death of a Massena Fratta of No. 225 East 56th street. Fratta was found by firemen lying unconscious in Pine street, having jumped from the third floor. Dr. Savage, of the Volunteer Hospital, whose ambulance was handy, found that the porter was suffering from a fracture at the base of the skull. He lifted him into the ambulance and sped with him to the hospital, but Fratta died before the institution was reached.
Oops, there's that blow to the back of the skull again. So different than two broken legs with internal injuries.

The January 10, 1912, The Sun, "6 Dead, 1 Missing, 23 Hurt," Page 1, Column 6, gets very specific about the attending physicians and the destination hospitals:
List Made Up by the Police of Casualties at the Fire.
This is the best list the police could get of the dead, missing and injured:
CAMPION, JOHN: watchman for the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company. It is his body which is visible through the iron grating of the safe deposit company.
CONDI, GIUSEPPE: address unknown. 38 tears old, an Italian. employed as a kitchen man in Savarin's restaurant. Killed by fall from the eighth floor to the Broadway sidewalk. Body at the Morgue.
FRATTA, MASSENA; 225 East Fifty-sixth street, a porter at Savarin's: fell from cupola at the corner of Pine and Nassau streets and died of his injuries on the way to the Volunteer Hospital. Body taken to the Morgue.
SAZZIO. JOHN, address unknown. 35 years old. an Italian employed at Savarin's as a kitchenman. Killed by fall from eighth floor to sidewalk. Body removed to Greenwich street station and then to the Morgue.
WALSH. WILLIAM J.; chief of the Second Battalion, living at 1170 Forty-second street Brooklyn.
An unidentified man. probably employed in Savarin's, who fell into the building from the eighth floor.
NEIDER, FRANK J.: watchman for the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company. 155th street and Melrose avenue. The Bronx.
SEIBERT, CONRAD: watchman for the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company
BASS, JOHN: 309 West 160th street, captain of Engine 4. Hands, face and head burned; attended at the Old Slip police station and later taken to the Hudson Street Hospital.
BROWN, WILLIAM: fireman from Engine 10: lacerated right arm: treated on the spot by Dr. Savage of the Volunteer Hospital and resumed work.
CARREN. THOMAS; a painter living at 420 East 127th street: left leg fractured by falling over a hose line; taken to the Hudson Street hospital.
DELK. LEANDER. a colored porter in the building; overcome by smoke; treated by Dr. Worthen of the Hudson Street Hospital and taken home.
DIAMOND. SAMUEL; fireman from Engine 17; right eye injured; treated by Dr. Savage and continued at work.
DONOVAN. WILLIAM: fireman from Engine 11; overcome by smoke and returned to work after being treated.
FLANNERY, JOSEPH L..; firemen from Engine 55; right hand cut; treated by Dr. Rosenberg from White Cross Hospital in Brooklyn; went home.
GIBLIN, WILLIAM, 350 West Seventy-second street, president of the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company: taken to the Hudson street hospital by Dr. Garrett, suffering from exposure.
GROTHERE NICHOLAS M.; a patrolman of the Old Slip station; back injured and scalp lacerated by falling bricks at Broadway and Pine street: treated and sent home on sick leave.
HEALEY, TIMOTHY; fireman of Tower 2; lacerated left arm; continued work after receiving treatment.
HERBERT. HENRY B.; insurance clerk; received a lacerated scalp and injuries to his right leg by falling over a hose; treated and went home.
HICKEY. JOHN J.: fell on the ice in front of building and received contusions of back.
HUDSON, ALLEN; a fireman living at 207 Eighth avenue: treated for face wounds and continued to work.
HUMPHREYS. L.; of 104 Duane street. Fell on sidewalk and received abrasions on the left leg. Removed to his home.
JOHNSON, LINDSEY H., a lawyer. Sprained back and right arm in fall.
LODDEN, MARK. 71 years old of 113 Oak street. Brooklyn. Taken to the Hudson street hospital suffering from shock.
MANNING, TIMOTHY P., fireman of Truck 6. Taken to the Hudson street hospital, suffering from hysteria. Condition serious.
McVEY. DANIEL, a fireman from Engine 107. Treated at the fire for injured knees Continued work.
MOYNAHAN, BARTHOLOMEY; a tenant of the building. Treated by Dr. Savage of the Volunteer Hospital. Ankle strained.
PETERSON, FRED. 602 East 101th street, a watchman. Overcome by smoke and treated by Dr. Worthen of the Hudson street hospital. Taken home.
SHEEHAN. WILLIAM, 367 West Fifty-second street. Right arm broken. Set by Dr. Worthen at the fire. Patient sent home,
SCHEIHLING, GEORGE, of 2116 Eighth avenue. Received gash over right eye from a falling brick. Treated and sent home.
STEINBERG. JOE. 95 Suffolk street. Broken knee. Was taken home.
According to The Evening Post, William Sheehan had to have his hand amputated to remove him from the debris. Dr. Worthen must be a genius to set it at the scene and send him home.

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