Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 interactive exhibit
 Baltimore on fire Baltimore of today Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage Project


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Copyright 2003, 2004 Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage Project / Enoch Pratt Free Library
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Map of Baltimore after the Great Fire of 1904
Phase One : Sunday Morning, 11 am
On Sunday February 7th, 1904 most of Baltimore was looking forward to a quiet Sunday afternoon.

The firefighters at Engine Co. 15 were preparing for morning inspection at 11 am. However, at 10:48 am they received an automatic alarm at the John E. Hurst & Company, located between Hopkins Place and Liberty Street on the south side of German Street (now Redwood). The Salvage Corps responded first, as did Fifth District Engineer Levin Burkhardt, Engine 15 and Truck 2.

On to the next phase
Map of Baltimore
Explosion at the Hurst Company Click to moveClick to close
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 Description
The explosion of the Hurst Company building sent flames and firebrands on to the roofs and through windows of nearby buildings. Within minutes, four additional buildings were on fire and threatening others. Chief Engineer George Horton ordered a general alarm and sent a telegram to Washington that read: "Desperate fire here. Must have help at once."
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Enoch Pratt Free Library
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 Explosion at the Hurst Company
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Hopkins Place Savings Bank Click to moveClick to close
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The Hopkins Place Savings Bank was located just one block north of where the fire started. A total of 20 banks burned in the fire. Amazingly all the bank vaults held secure and not a single penny was lost in the fire!
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Enoch Pratt Free Library
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Hopkins Place Savings Bank$
Painting of Baltimore Skyline Click to moveClick to close
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The Great Baltimore Fire from 137 West Lanvale Street, 1904
Mary Dorsey Davis was a student at the Maryland Institute at the time of the Great Baltimore Fire. She captured this view from the back window of the third floor and roof of 137 West Lanvale Street in Bolton Hill.
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Maryland Historical Society
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Painting of Baltimore Skyline
Union Trust Company Click to moveClick to close
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Description
Located on the northeast corner of Charles and Fayette the building burned in the fire, but its steel framework held. Known as the Jefferson Building today, it is one of the 10 buildings to survive the fire.
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Enoch Pratt Free Library
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Union Trust Company
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Film footage of Spectators Gathered Around the Courthouse Click to moveClick to close
Description
Thousands of Baltimoreans flooded the city in the hours after the fire broke out. In this excerpt from the film The Great Fire of Baltimore, you can see some of them gathered outside of Baltimore's City Hall.

Note: If you cannot view the video, you may need to download the latest version of Windows Media Player.
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Library of Congress
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Film footage of Spectators Gathered Around the Courthouse
Anderson and Ireland Hardware Store Click to moveClick to close
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The Anderson and Ireland Hardware Store, located near Pratt and Charles Streets was in danger of blowing up. Because of the large amount of gunpowder stored there, firemen poured water on the building until the fire ended late Monday afternoon.
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Enoch Pratt Free Library
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Anderson and Ireland Hardware Store
Narrow Streets Allow Fire to Spread Click to moveClick to close
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The narrow width of downtown streets allowed the wind-blown fire to easily jump buildings and entire blocks.
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Enoch Pratt Free Library
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Narrow Streets Allow Fire to Spread
The Hot Corner: Baltimore's Tallest Building Burns Click to moveClick to close
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By 10 PM Sunday, the Maryland Trust Company (left), B&O Railroad (center background) and Continental Trust Company (right background), Baltimore's tallest building, were ablaze and the glare could be seen from as far away as Washington, D.C.
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Enoch Pratt Free Library
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The Hot Corner: Baltimore's Tallest Building Burns
Alexander Brown and Sons Building Survives Click to moveClick to close
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Located on the southwest corner of Calvert and Baltimore Streets, the Alexander Brown and Sons building survived the fire with a just few cracks that can still be seen today! The tremendous updraft created by the nearby skyscrapers caused the fire to jump over the one-story building.
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Enoch Pratt Free Library
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Alexander Brown and Sons Building Survives
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The View from Federal Hill Click to moveClick to close
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Description
This view is of the aftermath of the fire from Federal Hill looking across the inner harbor to the downtown area with City Hall and its dome barely visible in the right background. The four stacks to the right belong to the Power Plant, which escaped the Fire.
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Baltimore County Public Libraries
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The View from Federal Hill
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Soldiers and Sailors Brought to Duty Click to moveClick to close
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Description
Units of the Maryland National Guard were called out on Sunday evening at the height of the fire. By midnight more than 2,000 soldiers and sailors were on duty in the fire district to deal with the crowds of spectators. The soldiers remained on guard duty until February 23rd.
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Enoch Pratt Free Library
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Soldiers and Sailors Brought to Duty
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Baltimore Street, Facing East Click to moveClick to close
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Description
Looking East on Baltimore Street. The tall building in the distance is the Continental Trust Building.
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Enoch Pratt Free Library
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Baltimore Street, Facing East$
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Film footage of Ruins at Centre Market Click to moveClick to close
Description
Film footage taken near the Centre Market area.

Note: If you cannot view the video, you may need to download the latest version of Windows Media Player.
Contributor information
Library of Congress
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Film footage of Ruins at Centre Market
Fire Stopped at the Jones Falls Click to moveClick to close
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Description
Firemen eventually used the 75 foot wide Jones Falls to stop the spread of the fire. 37 engines were stationed on the five bridges crossing the Jones Falls to keep the fire from spreading into east Baltimore.
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Enoch Pratt Free Library
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Fire Stopped at the Jones Falls
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Baltimore Aftermath from the Water Click to moveClick to close
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The tall building in the center of the photo is the Continental Trust Building. To the right is the dome of City Hall, which suffered only minor damage to its roof.
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Enoch Pratt Free Library
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Baltimore Aftermath from the Water
Cataract Battles Fires on the Piers Click to moveClick to close
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Although efforts to save the piers eventually failed, firemen on the ground and aboard the fireboat "Cataract" eventually stopped the fire at the Jones Falls.
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Fire Museum of Maryland
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Cataract Battles Fires on the Piers
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Explosion at the Hurst Company Hopkins Place Savings Bank Painting of Baltimore Skyline Union Trust Company Survives the Flames Film footage of Spectators Gathered Around the Courthouse Anderson and Ireland Hardware Store Is Protected Narrow Streets Allow Fire to Grow The Hot Corner: Baltimore's Tallest Building Burns Alexander Brown and Sons Building Survives the Fire With Little Damage The View from Federal Hill Soldiers and Sailors Brought to Duty Baltimore Street, Facing East Film footage of Ruins at Centre Market Fire Stopped at the Jones Falls Baltimore Aftermath from the Water Cataract Battles Fires on the Piers Click to visit mdch.org Clickto visit prattlibrary.org Print version About the exhibit