Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn Bridge Disaster, May 1883
Details of the Disaster on the Bridge.
Men and Women Crushed and Trampled to Death in the Blockade at New York Anchorage.
THE DEAD, THE INJURED AND THE MISSING.
How the Panic was Aided by a Gang of Ruffians - Scenes of Horror and Heartrending Cries for Help.
The Stairway That Led To Death
What is Said by Eye Witnesses and the Statements Made by Superintendent Martin, Mayor Low and Trustee Stranahan.
The Suffering in the Hospitals
Grief and Sorrow in Many Brooklyn Homes
THE SAD NEWS IN THE CITY
The extra EAGLE of last night was the first paper to announce the facts of the terrible disaster which occurred upon the bridge - a calamity that has darkened many homes and which thrilled the entire community with a deep sense of horror. Following the Eagle's lead, other journals in New York City issued extras, and the avidity with which the copies were bought showed the deep anxiety upon the part of residents of both cities to learn the full truth. Decoration day being observed to a very great extent as a holiday, there were thousands of people who were out visiting the cemeteries or enjoying themselves. The greater portion of the people who were crossing the bridge from Brooklyn to New York were residents of the latter city and vicinity, most of whom had been to the various cemeteries and who had taken advantage of the day to cross the structure. About half-past 4, the throng which was on its way to New York was the thickest, and this crowd became hindered at different points along the span by people who loitered to watch the river and the boats. Half a dozen persons stopping in this manner would very perceptibly stop the travel, but the press behind them was so great that they were compelled to move on. Still there would be breaks in the line of passengers, so that while there would be dense crowds together, there would be places where there were spaces of from fifty to a hundred feet, caused, as has been said, by those who desired to loiter. The fatal jam was just on the other side of the New York tower. It was formed between the tower and the two flights of steps which lead down from the planked footway to the asphalt pavement upon the top of the anchorage masonry.
Coming from New York the first flight of steps is sixteen feet wide. There are seven steps with a rise of six inches each. Then when the top of these is gained there is a platform which is the same width as the steps - sixteen feet - and eight feet wide. Then follows another flight of steps, also seven in number, just the same width and height as the lower flight; in fact, the platform dividing them is simply as a break between the fourteen steps to make the walking up the ascent easier. It was upon this platform where the first life was lost, and where the tragedy commenced. The crowd going toward New York had rounded the central column of the tower, and had become jammed in the narrower pathway leading to the steps. Right at these steps where the locomotion was gradually slower, the two crowds met, but the number coming from New York was not nearly so great as that which was going from Brooklyn. The difference is described by an eye witness as being one hundred to one. The efforts of people to pass each other upon the steps hindered the speed of pedestrians both ways, but it resulted in forming such a jam on the roadway between the New York tower and the steps, that the crowd in the rear, not knowing the cause, became impatient and pushed ahead those who were in front. In addition to this
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