On July 22, 1913, a devastating fire broke out in the Wall Street building of the Binghamton Clothing Company, located in Binghamton.

The fire spread horrifyingly fast, engulfing the four-story building in less than 20 minutes and resulting in the loss of 31 lives out of the approximately 100 people inside. The fire would end up playing a pivotal role in strengthening safety regulations and raising awareness about the importance of fire codes.

The Fire

Anton Schwarzmueller via Historical Marker Database
Anton Schwarzmueller via Historical Marker Database
loading...

The Binghamton Clothing Company, previously a cigar factory, was responsible for the production of men's overalls. That fateful Tuesday afternoon, employees, mostly young females, were working with doors and windows open due to the sweltering July heat as the factory was unusually hot.

Around 2:00 p.m. that day, a worker discovered a fire in the basement and attempted to extinguish it using a fire bucket, but their efforts were unsuccessful in stopping the rapid spread of the fire. The flames swiftly ascended the lone staircase, reaching the third and fourth floors where the factory was located.

Initially, some workers didn't understand that the fire alarm was a real threat. Instead, they believed it to be just another fire drill due to the continuous ringing. Because of this, precious time was lost before they realized the severity of the situation.

98.1 The Hawk logo
Get our free mobile app

Despite the heroic efforts, Nellie Connor, a 31-year employee who attempted to evacuate her coworkers, perished alongside many others. Sidney Dimmock, a courageous foreman, managed to save two women before also succumbing to the smoke and flames.

The Response

Anton Schwarzmueller via Historical Marker Database
Anton Schwarzmueller via Historical Marker Database
loading...

The Binghamton Fire Department faced significant challenges in fighting the inferno. The closest fire company was already on another call, and by the time the firefighters arrived, the intense heat prevented them from approaching the building.

Hindered by low water pressure caused by a drought, the firefighters focused efforts on protecting nearby structures from the spreading flames. The Binghamton Clothing Company's Wall Street building was completely consumed and lost within a mere 20 minutes.

Aftermath

The aftermath of the 1913 Binghamton Factory fire left a city mourning the loss of loved ones. Thousands of mourners attended the funeral procession, with unidentified remains interred in a communal grave at Spring Forest Cemetery.

As a lasting tribute to the victims, a memorial was erected at Spring Forest Cemetery, serving as a place of remembrance and reflection. Additionally, a memorial plaque on Wall Street marks the exact location of the tragic fire, reminding future generations of the importance of fire safety precautions.

The destructive fire resulted in an estimated loss of $100,000, and despite thorough investigations, the cause of the fire remains unknown to this day.

Legacy and Impact

The 1913 Binghamton Factory fire served as a catalyst for change, spurring New York officials to revise and strengthen life safety codes, allocate greater funding for fire inspectors, and implement stricter penalties for violations. While the fire was a devastating event, it played a crucial role in improving workplace safety standards, helping to prevent future tragedies.

Binghamton Remembers the American Civic Association Mass Shooting

April 3, 2009, started out like any other but would end with a horrific act of violence that would forever scar a community. Let's look back on the days following the deadly mass shooting at Binghamton's American Civic Association.

Gallery Credit: Traci Taylor

10 Notorious Murders That Sent Shockwaves Through New York State

Within the recesses of New York State's history, ten murders have left an indelible mark. These gruesome tales, originating as far back as the 1800s, continue to haunt the collective consciousness.

Gallery Credit: Traci Taylor

More From 98.1 The Hawk