Boston, MA The Great Fire, Nov 1872 - Extensive and Destructive

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The Great Boston Fire.

The city of Boston, second commercial city in the United States, has, within the past thirty-six hours, been visited by one of the most extensive and destructive conflagrations which this country has ever witnessed, only inferior to the memorable Chicago fire in October, 1871, in the enormous magnitude of the loss. The Chicago fire desolated nearly the whole of that city, entailing a frightful loss of life, and every kind of public and private edifice--churches, court house, hotels, stores, factories, residences, cemeteries, theaters, railroad depots, &c., &c. The Boston fire of Saturday and Sunday last seems to have been confined mainly to the business portion of the city and the wholesale business establishments. Those familiar with the landmarks and localities of Boston will realize this fact by the enumeration of streets as reported by telegraph to have been swept by the fire, namely: Milk, Pearl, Devonshire, Federal, Franklin, Arch, Morton Place, Congress, Summer and Otis Place. The boundaries of the fire as we traced them upon the map are as follows: North by Water, west by Washington, south by Bedford, east by High. The space covered by the fire will be about seventy-five acres, or about a third larger than the area of Boston common. The buildings in this quarter of the city were mostly of Quincy granite, five stories high, and of the latest style of architectural grandeur and embellishment. Most of the business houses on these streets were occupied by wholesale dealers in dry and fancy goods, and the offices and sales and warerooms of the principal cotton and woolen works of New England. Pearl street was lined nearly the entire length with wholesale boot and shoe houses. Among the business establishments destroyed was Beebe's magnificent structure, the largest in the city, covering an entire block. Only two or three banks seem to have been destroyed. Most of these blocks were erected within the last fifteen or twenty years. The Boston Pilot office was the only newspaper establishment burned, unless it be the Boston Post. The new postoffice, not yet finished, seems to have been within the limits of the fire. The Old South Church seems to have escaped, and the only historical landmarks that are swept away are the home of Edward Everett, on Summer street, opposite Chauncy street, and the old Mercantile Library building. The site of Daniel Webster's home was also on Summer street, and the site of Ben. Franklin's birthplace was on Milk street.

The escape of the ancient landmarks of colonial and revolutionary times, so dear to the patriots pride of the Bostonians, is a matter of congratulation, as money could not replace them or the associations which belong to them. But the magnitude of the loss is enormous, and of course at present incalculable. The district swept by the devouring element was the very heart of some of the heaviest business establishments in the country. The horse epidemic which had been more severely felt in Boston than almost any other part of the country, has probably aggravated this loss and disaster. Goods have been detained and accumulated for weeks on the hands of the commission houses located in this district, for want of drayage, and on account of want of horse power, goods and valuables could not be removed beyond the reach of the conflagration.

Boston has the best water supply of any city of the United States, about thirty millions of gallons daily, and as efficient a fire department as the country can boast, twenty-five steamers, fifteen hose companies, and seven hook and ladder companies, all drawn by horses, and all a paid department; also, a fire brigade, and three wagons, with about sixteen extinguishers in each wagon, under the patronage of insurance companies, and working in concert with the fire department, most of which means and appliances could be brought into action on five minutes notice at any given point within the limits of the city, by their fire telegraph, as has been frequently tested and proved. We, therefore, are at a loss to account for the rapidity with which this fire spread from block to block and street to street. The country will sympathise with this loss in all it market and financial riches, and will wait full details of this terrible conflagration with great anxiety.

Titusville Morning Herald, Titusville, PA 11 Nov 1872