New York, NY Soap Factory Collapse, Jun 1897


The Widow of JACOB JACOBSON at the Scene of the Soap Factory Disaster.

A cordon of police surround the ruins of the collapsed soap factory at Twelfth avenue and Fifty-second street, New York, this morning, while a gang of fifty men, under Contractor THOMAS GALLIGAN, in the employ of the building department, are removing the debris and searching for the body of JACOB JACOBSON, the millwright, the only man missing. His widow was at the ruins early this morning, accompanied by her 14 year old son. She was dressed in widow's weeds and her bloodshot, tearless eyes told more plainly than words the sorrow she had sustained.
Major GEORGE VIM of the building department will make an examination of the ruins to-day. A photograph of the broken wall, the joists and the broken vats will be taken during the day. An investigation made already by persons interested, disclosed the fact that those connected with the construction of the building are blameless. The collapse, so far as can be ascertained, is due to the bulging of one of the iron tanks, which was filled with water yesterday morning. It bulged out to such an extent as to force the brick wall. There was a space of two inches between the tank and the wall when it was empty, and it was braced from the inside by iron bars, fastened to the square sides of the tanks, with bolts. The pressure of the water was so great as to force these bolts in several of the tanks. The blame seems to lie at the door of those who filled the tanks, for they had ample opportunity, it would seem, to know the condition of the tanks.
It is said that about two weeks ago one of the tanks was filled with water in order to test it. The pressure of the water forced the bolts and the bars fell to the bottom of the tank. The bars were found in the tank referred to this morning. It was the sixth tank in the second row on the Fifty-first street side. The first tank of the first row and the seventh tank of the first row are still standing and it is plain from their condition that they, too, were forced in a similar manner.
Chief CONNORS of the building department, has ordered the removal of the two remaining tanks of the outer row. Acting Police Inspector HARLEY is on the ground. No official opinion has yet been expressed as to the cause of the accident. The body of WILLIAM FRAZER, an inspector of the Otis Elevator Company, who lived with his wife and child at 456 Van Buren street, this city, was found in the ruins late yesterday afternoon. Death had evidently been caused by a fractured skull.

Brooklyn Eagle New York 1897-06-04