Albany, NY Department Store Collapse, Aug 1905 - Walls Cave In

Albany NY Myers Building Collapse 8-8-1905.jpg Albany NY Myers Building Collapse 8-8-1905 2.jpg





Albany, N. Y., Aug 9. -- The middle section of the big department store of the John G. Myers company, in North Pearl street, collapsed early Tuesday, carrying down with it over 100 persons.
Caught in a chaos of brick, plaster and wooden beams, between 20 and 30 men, women and children met death. Twelve hours' frantic work on the part of an army of rescuers disentangled 50 people, six of them dead and many of the rest badly injured. Three bodies were in sight at a late hour Tuesday night, but many hours' work will be required to get them out. Anything like a complete list of the killed and injure will be unobtainable until the workers have made their way to the very bottom of the mass of wreckage. With few exceptions those caught in the ruin were employes, a large majority of them girls. The collapse occurred shortly after the opening hour, when barely a score of shoppers were in the store. The wrecked portion includes nearly one half of the store. About 400 persons are on the firm's pay roll, but some 50 of these are on their vacations.
Three hundred persons employed in the large store had just gone to work Tuesday, when the whole center of the building collapsed from roof to cellar. Nearly 100 men, girls and children were carried down in the wreck. The first estimate placed the number of killed and injured at 40. The catastrophe, which is the worst of its kind in the city's history, occurred shortly before nine o'clock. The Meyers estate has been making extensive repairs on its building. Tuesday morning a gang of Italian workmen started to remove an iron pillar that supported the main floor. Evidently they had failed to brace the floor properly, for scarcely had they loosened the post when down came all three upper floors within a radius of 50 feet from the fatal pillar. The wreck crashed through to the cellar, burying the workmen and carrying down those who happened to be working in that portion of the building.
Thw scene which followed the collapse is indescribable. Most of those injured were young men. The collapse came without warning. The walls and roof of the center of the structure fell into the building forming a mass of debris, under which were the unfortunate victims. Telephone communication was sent to the various hospitals and doctors throughout the city, and within half an hour 25 doctors and four ambulances were on the scene. The various stores in the neighborhood were turned into emergency hospitals and mattresses were brought from the various department stores in the neighborhood for the care of the victims.
The work of digging out the victims was conducted by the members of the fire and police departments and all city laborers. Water rushed into the ruins from twisted pipes, and it was necessary to cut off the supply in the vicinity. The scenes about the building were as pitiable as those within. Several hundred relatives of employes were there and their supplications as to the welfare of their loved ones were heartrending.
Clouds of dust which shot out of the front of the front entrance caused those outside to believe that the store was afire and a fire alarm was immediately turned in. When the fire department arrived they had plenty to do in rescuing those who were pinned under the top wreckage. They were joined by scores of volunteer rescuers and within an hour 15 or 20 persons were carried out, none of them fatally injured.
In a short time the city's entire hospital and ambulance force was on the scene, aided by half a hundred doctors from all parts of the city.
The volunteer rescuers and firemen continued the work until exhausted, when their places were taken by a wrecking force numbering 300 from the New York Central and Delaware & Hudson railroads. These delved in the ruins all night, but the work of rescue proceeded slowly. When darkness came, it was estimated that nearly 50 persons still remained in the ruins and that not more than half of these could survive the weight pressing upon them. Fortunately the wreckage did not take fire. Some 100 persons are still unaccounted for but 50 of these are cash boys of which the firm has no record, and the loss of the pay roll makes it difficult to get anything like a complete list of many others.
The building which collapsed stands in the heart of the shopping district. It is owned partly by the company and partly by the estate of the late David Orr. The loss to the company is estimated at between $200,000 and $300,000. The building was a very old one, but until now considered perfectly sound.

Logansport Reporter Indiana 1905-08-09