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Downtown: The Fire of 1845


CAPTION: Great Fire at Pittsburgh.
NOTES: Engraving.
"In our journal of last week, we briefly announced this 
terrific calamity--one of the most awful conflagrations that 
ever devastated any city in the United States.
"The fire broke out about twelve o'clock on the 11th ult., 
and was not materially checked till five in the afternoon. It
originated in a frame building over an ice-house, near the 
corner of the Second and Ferry streets. The progress of the 
flames was so fearfully rapid, that many persons had not time
to remove their goods; others, again, had got their property
into the street, when the flames seized it there, before it
could be removed to a place of safety. At dark, persons might
be seen in every direction, families sitting without shelter,
guarding such portions of their household furniture as they
were able to save from the flames, and not knowing where they
would lay their heads, or procure a morsel of food. Of course,
the kindness of their more fortunate fellow-citizens did much
to alleviate their sufferings, and we believe all were provided
for as well as the melancholy nature of affairs would allow.
"The Councils met in the afternoon, and attempted to devise
some means to stay the conflagration. It was proposed to blow
up houses that seemed in the way of the flames; the 
deliberations, however, were ineffectual in results. It seems, 
indeed, that there scarcely could have been time to accomplish 
anything in the way of destroying houses, so terribly rapid was 
the progress of the fire.
"There is abundant reason for thankfulness that only one 
life was lost.
"We have not room for the lengthy details, but may state
the general results. 'We have just returned,' says the
Pittsburgh Post, 'from an hour's walk among the ruins 
of the disastrous conflagration. Frightful as was the progress
of the flames, and terrible as the havoc seemed while it was
going on, nobody can realize the losses and privations our 
citizens have sustained, until he walks through the forest of
naked chimneys which mark the path of the destroying element.
"'Of the 1200 houses, which were estimated as the number
lost, about 700 were dwellings, and we suppose at least 4000
persons have been thrown out of house and home.
"'On Friday the vaults of the Bank of Pittsburgh were
opened, and the books, papers, and money, were found almost
[Source for this account is unknown.]
DATE: [1845]. 
From the Collections of the Pennsylvania Department,
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Images 7. Narrative. Outline. Neighborhoods. Main Menu.

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