Thursday, July 8, 2010
Real Photo Postcard, Great Chelsea Fire, April 12, 1908
Early 1900s real photo postcard, unused, of The Great Chelsea Fire April 12, 1908, Chelsea, Massachusetts.
Chelsea, in Suffolk County, is the smallest city in Massachusetts, in land area. It's directly across the Mystic River from Boston.
The first fire alarm rang at about 11 A.M., at the Boston Blacking Company on West 3rd Street. The fire department was able to extinguish that initial fire rather quickly, but a vicious wind was blowing that day. Sparks were carried over the city, first setting frame buildings on fire and then intensifying to the point where granite buildings collapsed from the heat. The fire burned eastward until stopped by the Mystic River.
Ultimately, nineteen people had died, possibly as many as 12,000 people had been made homeless, and 1500 buildings had been destroyed. Larger buildings destroyed included City Hall, the YMCA, the Odd Fellows Hall, the Chelsea Savings Bank Building, eight schools and a dozen churches. One bright note in the tragedy: the outstanding charitable response from across Massachusetts and the nation.
Here's a link to a website with more information: http://www.olgp.net/chs/photos/fire1908/writeup.htm
In 1973 on another windy day, Chelsea suffered the Second Great Chelsea Fire, in which eighteen city blocks were destroyed. Fortunately, though there were some injuries, no lives were lost.