One Of The Deadliest Accidents In U.S. History Happened Right Here In Massachusetts
Massachusetts is no stranger to disasters, both natural and manmade. However, one particular Bay State accident ranks among the most deadly in the nation’s history. Here’s how the Great Boston Fire of 1872 changed the face of our state’s capital forever.
The Great Boston Fire was one of the worst disasters to ever strike Massachusetts.
It leveled a huge chunk of the city and destroyed many colonial-era buildings. At the time, fire alarms were kept behind locked boxes to people were unable to trip them and alert others to the spread of the flames.
It was Boston’s largest fire ever and ranks as one of the costliest fire-related property losses in American history.
Plenty of factors contributed to the fire’s spread, including lax building regulations and a bout of equine flu that had taken most of the Boston fire department’s horses out of commission. All fire equipment, including carriages and hoses, had to be carried by volunteers and firefighters.
The inferno started on the evening of November 9, 1872. Fire departments from every state in New England except Vermont responded to the massive blaze.
It’s believed that the fire began in the basement of a commercial building on Summer Street. The exact address of the warehouse was 83-87.
The flames spread across the city for 12 hours, burning 776 buildings and most of the Financial District to the ground.
Alexander Graham Bell was an eyewitness to the disaster and submitted his account to The Boston Globe. The newspaper apparently didn’t like his work and never published the piece.
The headquarters of The Boston Globe actually burned in the fire, along with that of The Boston Herald, Shreve, Crump & Low jewelry store and Carter’s Ink Company.
The glow of the fire was visible as far as Maine, where ships reported seeing an eerie amber haze in the direction of Boston.
Despite the massive devastation, only 13 people died in the fire. Of course, many more people were injured and thousands lost their businesses and homes.
Incredibly, the burnt district was largely repaired in just under two years. Much of the rubble from the fire was dumped into the harbor and used to create what is now Atlantic Avenue.
The city of Boston may have recovered, but the legacy of this disaster lives on. If you love reading about tragedy and death, check out our list of the 11 most horrifying disasters in Massachusetts history
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