09/01/12 499 W, 2 I - + 4 - 2 Former Firehouses in New York City

Ever wondered about former firehouses in New York City. Here's an nycfire.net discussion board thread about that topic, with pages of interesting information and photos. Don't expect a personal  tour any time soon, however. Toured Philly this summer, which was an adventure (both on the ground and beforehand with research) and a return visit is required for a couple more station buildings since identified. Sources for that started with acquiring a copy of the PFD history book Hike Out! Then scanning the company history in the appendix. Then converting to text. Then correcting. Then appending with information found via the 'net and Google Maps street view.

Toured Chicago in a prior year, and those were exclusively structures built before 1900. Both active and retired. See those photos. Believe it was a comprehensive excursion, as but a handful of those had survived. They were found using the first of the four History of Chicago Fire Houses volumes, by Ken Little and John McNalis. That made the research super-easy. Just flipping pages and writing a list by hand. Then using Google Maps street view to confirm that the buidlings were still standing. (Acquring the four volumes, which are out of print, was the harder piece!)

But New York City?

That's a considerable larger and more complicated kettle of fish. First, there's finding the building information. That is, an easily accessed list of past and present stations and their current dispositions. Then there's the sheer physical challenge of (a.) getting to the Big Apple and (b.) traversing all five boroughs to shoot said buildings. Probably won't be anytime this decade. But there's some easy arm chair explorations available. Google Maps street view coupled with this list of fire company locations (PDF) compiled by Mike Boucher BXCO. Start entering addresses and see what you find!

Looking for the volunteer houses of New York City? Try these listings, also by Boucher:

For even easier armchair view (of active stations of an age), find a copy of Brian R. McCaffrey's full-color book FHNY - Fire House New York - A Pictorial History of Firehouse Architecutre in the City of New York. There's a page for each active firehouses, and many that are historic or very historic. Good stuff. And wonder how many months that took, getting those photos? Here's the Amazon page on same. Maybe someone else has published a book of photos of the former firehouses.

As for Mikey? Such research and explorations are relaxing, so maybe that's a future vacation. Or series of vacations. Nothing so clears the mind and invigorates the soul as searching for fire stations...

See more and read more.

Great post Mike! Too many fire stations, too little time is my motto. Thanks for mentioning the McCaffrey FHNY book – I haven’t heard of that one and it looks to be quite good. Added to the wish-list. I agree that New York is a bit daunting when it comes to fire-buffing and fire station visiting. I recently spent about 8+ hours in Philadelphia and visited 8 stations, and like you had quite the adventure. Having lived in Philly in the 90s I knew my way around and had a good memory/recall of where most of the stations on my list reside … but I did do some google maps research before (street views are so helpful) and brought a long a short list of the stations I wanted to photograph. Weather cooperated as well and that helped.

I’ve posted a selection of the 400+ photos I shot to my Picasa account from my day trip. These include: Squirt 43/Ladder 9; Engine 1/Ladder 5; Haz-Mat 1/Foam 60 (with appearance by Squad 47); Snorkel 2; Engine 20/Ladder 23; and Rescue 1/Engine 29. I also visited 2 stations in Roxborough/Manayunk. So getting about 8 stations in day is doable leaving about 15+ min at each station for conversation, meeting the crew, etc. Philly has an awesome department and the crews were all super nice and welcoming. The city is amazingly compact and easy to get around from Center City to South Philly, back up to North Philly, and a quick jaunt over to the west. These are all current and active stations. Here’s my photo set over at Picasa:


Thanks again for your inspiring and interesting post – I agree that Google Maps street view is a must tool (for historic and current stations) ... and those New York City volunteer PDFs are pretty amazing. Good stuff. Keep up the firehouse photography and research!


Trevor James (Email) (Web Site) - 09/02/12 - 16:37

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