SS General Slocum and fireboat, Harpers Weekly June 25, 1904
On June 15, 1904 the excursion boat General Slocum caught fire in the East River. The blaze resulted in the deaths of over 1000 passengers, mostly women and children, making it New York City's worst disaster until the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
A strong headwind fanned the fire out of control. The Slocum’s life preservers and hoses were rotted. Most victims who did not burn to death drowned when they jumped into the river to escape the flames. Almost all of the passengers lived in a German-American enclave in the East Village known as Kleindeutchland. The grief-stricken neighborhood never recovered from the tragedy, and many survivors resettled to Yorkville, a growing new German-American community on the Upper East Side.
Join NYC H2O as we sail aboard the historic fireboat John J Harvey, retracing and recounting the ill fated last voyage of the Slocum. Michael Miscione, the Manhattan Borough Historian, will be our tour guide.
1893 Map of Willamsbridge Reservoir (www.davidrumsey.com)
Did you know that the Bronx River Is NYC's only true fresh water river? It was considered a source for NYC's drinking water in the early 1830's. By the end of the 1800's it was labeled "an open sewer." The river has made a comeback since the days of reckless dumping and now supports many forms of aquatic life like Alewife Herring and even a beaver named "Jose."
Come be awed by its beauty and bike with NYC H2O and the Bronx River Alliance as we tour the Bronx River from Williamsbridge Oval to its source in Valhalla. Purchase tickets here