New York's deadliest disaster before 9/11 was a 1904 steamboat fire that killed over a thousand people

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If the fire didn’t get you, the saw dust filled life preservers did the trick.


This is why steam-powered travel will never replace the sail.


What startled me about this story was how few early 1900’s Americans knew how to swim. Especially when you see the old newsreels which make it look like half of the city went to Coney Island every weekend.

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1853 - Alviso, CA – the “Jenny Lind” did similar - less people, still tragic

always use Union Boilermakers to inspect your steamship parts!


Who knew right?

The owners had life preservers hung around the ship because they knew the passengers would be more comfortable if they saw them. But cork was expensive, so they used iron barrel hoops wrapped in straw inside, instead of cork - they were just to comfort people.

So when children fell into the water and parents threw them a life preserver, the life preserver sank, carrying the child under.

Most of the passengers that day were neighbors from around Thompson Square Park in the East Village - the disaster took the life out of the neighborhood, and many people moved away. There’s still a monument to the disaster in the park.

The state passed laws regulating such things after the disaster - the first such laws in the state.


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