New York City Fire Museum

New York City Fire Museum This renovated 1904 firehouse contains a comprehensive collection of fire-related art & artifacts from 18th century to the present. Visitors explore firefighting history from buckets to motorized apparatus, from a volunteer to professional service.
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The New York City Fire Museum is the official museum of the FDNY and houses one of the nation's most prominent collections of fire related art and artifacts from the 18th Century to the present. Among its holdings are painted leather buckets, helmets, parade hats and belts, lanterns and tools, Volunteer-era hand pumped fire engines, horse drawn vehicles and early motorized apparatus. Admission is $8.00 for adults and $5.00 for children, seniors and college students; Admission is free for active FDNY, NYPD, DSNY and NYNJPA members.

Operating as usual

As we all know, the world has drastically changed since March. It's a difficult time for everyone. At the New York City ...
11/24/2020

As we all know, the world has drastically changed since March. It's a difficult time for everyone. At the New York City Fire Museum, our principle sources of revenue are from visitors, tourists and celebrations in our event space. They have all but disappeared in 2020. Our non-profit institution, which is not funded by the #FDNY or the City of New York, is under severe financial strain. If you believe in our mission to preserve the history of the FDNY, to educate families on being fire safe and celebrate the service of FDNY members to the communities of New York, please consider making a tax-exempt donation to our new Crisis Recovery Fund at https://www.nycfiremuseum.org/donate

Today’s Flashback Friday highlights one of the loudest objects in the New York City Fire Museum collection.  Pictured is...
11/20/2020

Today’s Flashback Friday highlights one of the loudest objects in the New York City Fire Museum collection. Pictured is a Steam Whistle that was used aboard the fireboat James Duane. The James Duane was in service from 1908 through 1959, and was originally Engine 85, before becoming Marine 3.

The whistle is made of brass (although it is now covered with a fine patina!), and measures 28 inches high, with a width at its widest point of 10.5 inches.

Steamboats did not always have steam whistles. Before them, bells had been used for passing signals and other communication between boats. Today whistle signals are still accepted as official passing signals on the rivers, but radio has replaced their function as the required method of communication between boats.

The New York City Fire Museum is current completing the installation of a new exhibit about the illustrious history of FDNY Marine Operations and its boats. Please visit the Museum to see this, and other exhibitions, highlighting the history of the FDNY.

If you have any Marine Operations artifacts that you might think about donating to help us build this collection, contact us via our website.

On this #ThrowbackThursday we revisit the 1966 23rd Street Fire. It took the lives of 12 members of the #FDNY. At the ti...
11/19/2020

On this #ThrowbackThursday we revisit the 1966 23rd Street Fire. It took the lives of 12 members of the #FDNY. At the time, their Supreme Sacrifice was the deadliest in the Department’s history. Learn more in Episode 5 of our Throwback FDNY Podcast available on Apple, Spotify and Google Play. And sign up for our companion Throwback newsletter at nycfiremuseum.org/throwbackfdny

11/18/2020
www.firemenshallmuseum.org

Fireman's Hall Museum in Philadelphia (www.firemenshallmuseum.org) is hosting a virtual event that you may find of interest.

Hear Gary Urbanowicz, Executive Director of the New York City Fire Museum talk about the history of the New York Fire Museum. Virtual event takes place on November 24 at 7:00 pm EST.

To register for the event, send an email to [email protected]

Fire Department Prints
11/16/2020

Fire Department Prints

We’re proud to announce our newest design for the New York City Fire Museum! Each poster, canvas or metal print purchase will help fundraise for the museum in lieu of their fundraising gala this year.

Originally established in 1870 in the headquarters of the Fire Commissioners. Since 1987 the museum is housed in the former quarters of engine 30 on Spring Street and receives over 40,000 visitors annually.

All items can be ordered directly @ www.fdprints.com
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#fire #fdny #nycfiremuseum #firefighter #firedepartment #firehouse #bravest #firehistory #firefighting #fireengine #museum #artdeco #fdprints #manhattan #steamengine #education #history #newyorkcity #newyorkcityfiremuseum #newyorkcityfiredepartment #enginecompany #truckcompany #nyc #friendsoffirefighters

Flashback Friday – As we honor the men and women that have served in our country’s armed forces this week, it is appropr...
11/13/2020

Flashback Friday – As we honor the men and women that have served in our country’s armed forces this week, it is appropriate that we flashback in FDNY history to the American Civil War.

Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth studied law in the office of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois where the two became close friends. Ellsworth joined a troupe of performers called the Chicago National Guard Cadets. He became its Colonel and changed its name to the U.S. Zouave Cadets. The unit traveled the country exhibiting their crack marching and military drills. When they visited New York City, the group captured the interest of members of the New York Fire Department. Likewise, Ellsworth found the firemen interesting and the two groups formed a strong bond. Given his propensity for the military, when the war between the States erupted Ellsworth organized a regiment of volunteers for the Union. To whom did he turn to march into battle? The New York firemen. The regiment, the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry, was readily recognizable by their flamboyant uniforms modeled after French Zouave troops of Northern Africa. The regiment became better known as the First New York Fire Zouaves. They shipped out of New York by train on April 29, 1861 from Camp Decker in Staten Island.

While encamped in Washington, D.C. the Zouaves captured the attention of the locals, as well as of their loved ones back in New York, when fire broke out at the Willard Hotel on May 9, 1861. The Zouaves reverted to their avocation of firefighting and aggressively fought the fire with skills that were dramatized in a front-page illustration in the May 25, 1861 issue of Harper’s Weekly newspaper.

On the morning of May 24, 1861 Ellsworth dressed and, according to a New York Times account, he affixed his badge from Engine Company 14 (Columbian) of the New York Fire Department on his uniform. He took his men into Alexandria, Virginia, where the local citizens were voting that very day on the issue of succession. Upon observing a Confederate flag flying from a hotel known as The Marshall House at the corner of King and Pitt Streets, Ellsworth entered and ordered the proprietor, James W. Jackson, to bring it down. When he refused, Ellsworth climbed the stairs to the roof with three men and took down the flag himself. Enraged at Ellsworth’s actions, Jackson followed the Union soldiers upstairs and, as they descended from the roof, he shot Ellsworth with a shotgun blast to the chest. Corporal Francis Brownell quickly dispatched Jackson to the hereafter. Ellsworth died instantly. This was the first action of the Civil War to be recognized with the Medal of Honor awarded to Brownell.

After Ellsworth’s death, command of the First New York Fire Zouaves was assumed by Colonel Noah Farnham, formerly Assistant Engineer of the NYFD. The unit fought valiantly at the First Battle of Manassas, better known as the Battle of Bull Run, where they suffered heavy losses and casualties. The Regiment was mustered out of service on June 2, 1862. Six officers and forty-three enlisted men from this regiment gave their lives while in service to their county, most of whom were New York City’s Bravest.

The Second New York Fire Zouave regiment, mustered into service on July 10, 1861, fought bravely at the throughout the war, including at the Battle of Gettysburg, where the FDNY erected a statue in 1897 to honor them. You can read more about the regiment here: Second NY Fire Zouaves at Gettysburg And about the monument, here: Second NY Fire Zouaves monument

The collection of the NYC Fire Museum includes a glicee print of a painting executed by famous military artist, Don Troiani, of the Zouaves engagement at the Battle of Bull Run. We also have a number of artifacts on display, including the Harper’s Weekly noted above, Ellsworth-related items and an actual Civil War musket. Some of these items are currently on display in our second-floor gallery.

The FDNY has a long history of sending its members into the defense of our country as early as the American Revolution and currently in the War Against Terrorism, many of whom made the Supreme Sacrifice.

#ThrowbackThursday to the #FDNY’s School of Instruction! This is widely considered the origin of what would become the F...
11/12/2020

#ThrowbackThursday to the #FDNY’s School of Instruction! This is widely considered the origin of what would become the FDNY’s world-renowned Bureau of Training that now oversees the Department’s Fire Academy and EMS Academy. Learn more in Episode 5 of our Throwback FDNY Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play. Signup for our companion Throwback FDNY newsletter at nycfiremuseum.org/throwbackfdny

Flashback Friday - One figure stands out as an icon of the Fire Department, City of New York beyond all others.  That is...
11/06/2020

Flashback Friday - One figure stands out as an icon of the Fire Department, City of New York beyond all others. That is Harry Howard. So too is his presence large at the NYC Fire Museum. We are proud to display a life-size portrait of Chief Howard, painted by the famous artist Joseph H. Johnson. Accompanying his portrait are other artifacts, including the Chief’s helmet front.

Orphaned as an infant, Harry was adopted by Sarah Charlesworth Howard. He was a buff, then known as a “runner,” starting in 1835 with Peterson Engine 15. When he came of age, he joined the company. In 1850 he was elected Foreman of Atlantic Hose 14 and in the same year was elected to the position of Assistant Engineer in the Department. He set up his “office” in the Sixth Ward police station because it had a fire alarm telegraph. This gave him notice of fires prior to the ward bells being rung, and would allow him to respond quicker and to more alarms. He would assume command of all large fires until the Chief Engineer was on the scene. It is said that his over-exertions in this regard “undermined his health.” He was elected Chief Engineer in 1857. He only served in that capacity until 1860 but during his tenure, he enacted sweeping reforms that not only professionalized the volunteer corps, many of his changes can still be seen today.

One of the first actions Chief Howard enacted was to set up bunk rooms in the fire houses and required companies to staff the quarters each night with a complement of members. Just as the example he set back in 1850 by quickly turning out to all fires, he demanded the same of the members including overnight. As such, fires were attacked and controlled much sooner. In fact, fire losses in the City dropped to an all-time low such that the insurance companies actually lowered their premiums. He was also responsible for bringing the FDNY into the “new age” by acquiring and equipping it with steam fire engines; prior to which all apparatus was hand-pumped. The Chief believed that the general public did not appreciate or acknowledge the work and sacrifices, including the Supreme Sacrifice, by the volunteer firemen of the City. He favored establishing the fire department as a paid force. Although he retired before this came to fruition, in 1866 he appeared before the State Legislature to lobby for an increase in firemen’s salaries. A raise of twenty-five percent was approved.

Throughout his retirement, Harry Howard remained very active in the fire department. Consistent with his concern about the welfare of the volunteer firefighters of New York City, he established the Firemen’s Home in upstate Hudson, New York in 1892. The Home still operates today and is open to all volunteer firefighters in the State. It is located at 117 Harry Howard Boulevard.

Harry Howard died of pneumonia at his home at 94 Elm Street (renamed Elk Street in 1939) on February 5, 1896. He is buried beside his adoptive mother directly in front of, and looking toward, the Firemen’s plot in Greenwood Cemetery.

Please come to the NYC Fire Museum and visit Chief Howard!!!

10/30/2020

On this #ThrowbackThursday we invite you to listen to Episode 5 of the Throwback FDNY Podcast... in it we explore the Bureau of Training’s 1883 Origin as the School of Instruction, the Short-Lived Chief of Staff and Operations post introduced in 1946 and we recall the 1966 23rd Street Fire. #FDNY history buffs can find the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play. Also, sign up for the Museum’s companion Throwback FDNY newsletter at nycfiremuseum.org/throwbackfdny

Flashback Friday - The newest addition to the museum’s collection is this rare FDNY Hockey jersey, dated to the late 197...
10/23/2020

Flashback Friday - The newest addition to the museum’s collection is this rare FDNY Hockey jersey, dated to the late 1970’s. The front emblem is based on the firefighters union, The Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, Local 94. The jerseys currently used by the hockey team simply use the letters “FDNY” as the front emblem. It is unknown which team member this jersey belonged to.

The team began in 1968, where the Harlem Rink Rats (16th Battalion) skated against The Bronx Bums (14th Battalion). Three of those members, Tim Gallagher, Ed McLoughlin and Gene Scott organized the Department’s first Ice Hockey team. Additional players in the following five years skated against semi-pro, college, and teams from Buffalo, Boston and Hoboken Fire Departments. In the winter of 1974, the first game against the NYPD was played at the Abe Stark Arena in Coney Island. This team still continues today with sold out crowds in arenas such as the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Barclay's Center and Madison Square Garden.

The New York City Fire Museum is currently in the planning stages of an exhibition dedicated to the many FDNY sports teams and their illustrious histories. We invite any former firefighters, their families, and buffs to contribute to this exhibition. Items can be donated to the museum, or loaned and returned at the close of the exhibit. If interested, contact us at [email protected]

#ThrowbackThursday to the 1965 debut of the #FDNY Superpumper system. The name itself conveys the fact that it was somet...
10/23/2020

#ThrowbackThursday to the 1965 debut of the #FDNY Superpumper system. The name itself conveys the fact that it was something beyond the ordinary– and it was. Learn more in Episode 4 of our Throwback FDNY Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play. Signup for our companion Throwback FDNY newsletter at nycfiremuseum.org/throwbackfdny

Flashback Friday - Hugh Bonner was born in Ireland and came to the United States while still a boy. Bonner joined one of...
10/09/2020

Flashback Friday - Hugh Bonner was born in Ireland and came to the United States while still a boy. Bonner joined one of the NYC volunteer companies, Engine 14, quickly becoming its Foreman, or Captain. When the paid Department was organized in 1865 he was accepted for employment and carried over his rank of Foreman in Engine Company 20. In 1873 he became a Battalion Chief in charge of Battalion 2. He rose through the ranks becoming a Second Assistant Chief in 1883, First Assistant Chief in 1884 and was made Chief of Department in 1889.

Chief Bonner had a curious habit. He kept an unlit cigar in his mouth while combating a blaze and upon declaring the fire “under control” he would light up the cigar and thoroughly enjoy it!

He served as Chief of Department until 1899 when he was replaced by Chief Edward Croker. It was long believed that Croker’s appointment was a political one based on his relationship to his uncle Richard Croker, head of the Tammany Hall political machine. In 1902, President Roosevelt tapped Bonner to become Chief of the Manila (Philippines) Fire Department. The United States took possession of the Philippines after its victory against Spain in 1898. Bonner spent two years in that island nation organizing its fire service.

FDNY Chaplain, Reverend James LeBaron Johnson endowed a medal in the name of Chief Bonner in 1897. It is awarded annually. In his endowment, Rev. Johnson referred to Bonner as, “a stalwart Chief of Department who preferred to rule by example.”

Not long after his return to the United States, he was called into the service of the FDNY again as Deputy Commissioner in 1906 and was appointed Commissioner in 1908. Unfortunately, he died of pneumonia only four months later. Perhaps his final act as Commissioner was to replace the aged, rotten hose throughout the Department which was believed to have contributed to the fatalities of two firefighters and one Fire Patrolman at the Parker Building fire that year.

The NYC Fire Museum has numerous artifacts related to Chief Bonner. Perhaps the most unusual is a bust of him that was previously on display when the Museum was located on Duane Street.

#ThrowbackThursday to the 1865 selection of Elisha Kingsland to be the first Chief of Department of the newly organized ...
10/08/2020

#ThrowbackThursday to the 1865 selection of Elisha Kingsland to be the first Chief of Department of the newly organized Metropolitan Fire Department, in what would become the #FDNY. He was a well-respected and a tough Fire Officer known for his tenacity and courage. Learn more in Episode 4 of our Throwback FDNY Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play. Signup for our companion Throwback FDNY newsletter at nycfiremuseum.org/throwbackfdny

Flashback Friday - As any fan of the FDNY knows, its members have a long and illustrious history of developing new devic...
10/02/2020

Flashback Friday - As any fan of the FDNY knows, its members have a long and illustrious history of developing new devices to improve the safety and efficiency of firefighting. We have presented some of these in the past, like the Halligan Tool and the Heffernan Distributor. Today, we look at a tool that not only addressed difficult firefighting challenges, it also paved the way for other industries.

Hugh Bonner served the FDNY from the late 1850’s during the volunteer era, until his passing in 1908. He held every uniformed position up to Chief of Department and was appointed Fire Commissioner shortly before he died. His invention was a nozzle, like the Bresnan and Quayle Distributors, to fight fires in cellars. But it was different from those by way of it incorporating two S-shaped, revolving nozzles, each with two orifices. Additionally, not only would each nozzle rotate on its central axis, the nozzle assembly it self would rotate. It has an effective radius of water distribution of approximately fifteen feet, thereby covering a thirty-foot area. One drawback was that all the gears for the rotational features were exposed and subject to clogging by debris.

Around 1925, Arthur Butterworth learned of the Bonner Distributor and thought that he could create a water distributing nozzle that could be used to clean cargo tanks on ocean-going vessels. He patented the first automated tank cleaning machine, based on the design of the Bonner Distributor. Not only was he successful in doing so, he built a company to sell his cleaning system, whose use has been expanded beyond the marine application, to other industries. The company is still in business and some of its representatives have visited the NYC Fire Museum to see an original Bonner Distributor that was the inspiration for their company.

Not only do we have several Bonner Distributors in our collection, we also have many items attributed to Chief/Commissioner Bonner, which we will feature in a future Flashback Friday.

Address

278 Spring St
New York, NY
10013

1 train to Houston or Canal Streets; C or E to Spring Street

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Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 17:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 09:00 - 17:00
Sunday 09:00 - 17:00

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(212) 691-1303

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