The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904

Introduction

BALTIMORE, Md., Feb. 8.-- Smoke enshrouded, this stricken city lies to-night stunned and silent under the weight of the worst disaster in its history. The great fire which began shortly before noonday on Sunday burned itself out at the water's edge just as evening fell today, having swept, a gigantic all-conquering wave of flame, up from the heart of the business centre of the city, through its financial district, and then, receding, back among the wharves and warehouses.

A territory twelve full city blocks by nine, and extending beyond over a mile and more of water front, is left in smoking, hideous ruins. Where at Saturday's close of business stood stately office structures, substantial buildings of business, and docks teeming with the shipping trade of the world, there are now piles of broken brick and stone and tottering walls which the zappers are fast leveling with dynamite.

The business streets are deserted, not because it is the day's end and the workers are gone till morning, but because there can be no work until the restored city rises from the ashes.

As for the loss -- this is a matter of reckoning now. The authorities have put it at $150,000,000, but such an estimate takes into account only what can be figured as the direct and immediate damage. Indirectly the losses are quite beyond computation, and it will take the days necessary to overhaul vaults and deposit chambers in order to make any accurate appreciation of the injury done to all interests affected....

Extracted From: New York Times, February 9, 1904

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12:

Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)

STANDARD 3: How the United States changed from the end of World War I to the eve of the Great Depression.

Standard 3B: The student understands how a modern capitalist economy emerged in the 1920s.

5-12: Explain how principles of scientific management and technological innovations, including assembly lines, rapid transit, household appliances, and radio, continued to transform production, work, and daily life. [Examine the influence of ideas] 
9-12
: Analyze the new business downtowns, the development of suburbs, and the role of transportation in changing urban life. [Explain historical continuity and change] 

Primary Resources

BALTIMORE BEFORE THE FIRE

  1. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Baltimore from Federal Hill. City Hall dome at left; at center, Merchant's Exchange.
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     1876
    NOTES: This photograph, taken in 1876, three years after the last major fire, shows the area of the city that would be hardest hit by the fire. The dome at left is City Hall which marks the northern boundary of the burned district. The area from the wharves to City Hall (1,526 buildings in 86 square blocks comprising 140 acres) would be destroyed by the fire.
    SOURCE:  MSA SC 2167-1-63
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  2. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, City Hall, Baltimore
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     before 1903
    SOURCE:  MSA SC 2167-1-13
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  3. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Hutzlers Brothers
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     
    NOTES: Founded in 1858, Hutzler Brothers kept expanding on its original Howard Street site until 1887, when these structures were demolished to make way for the Pallace Building.
    SOURCE:  MSA SC 2167-1-63
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  4. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Louis Ash & Company, 267 West Baltimore Street, between Eutaw and Howard Streets
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     1880
    SOURCE:  MSA SC 2167-1-1
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  5. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, N. Tip Slee bicycle shop
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     n. d.
    NOTES: N. Tip Slee sold bicycles at 2310-2313 Madison Avenue from 1895 to 1901. By 1903 he was marketing gasoline engines.
    SOURCE:  MSA SC 2167-1-28
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  6. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Eutaw House
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     c. 1875
    NOTES: Eutaw House was a hotel located on the northwest corner of Baltimore and Eutaw Streets. It was built in 1835 and survived the 1904 fire, but was torn down in stages beginning in 1912. The building was gone by 1916. The building was bought by Robert Garrett & Sons in 1845 and served as an army headquarters during the Civil War. 
    SOURCE:  MSA SC 2167-1-14
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  7. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Market Place
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     c. 1900 
    SOURCE:  MSA SC 2167-1-3
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

BALTIMORE IN FLAMES

  1. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Firemen fighting the great fire at unknown location
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
      1904
    RESTRICTIONS: All commercial use restricted. Contact the Maryland State Archives Curator of Photographs for information concerning use.
    SOURCE:  Marion E. Warren Photograph Collection, MSA SC 1890-4570
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  2. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Hoses and ladders on an unidentified street
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
      1904
    RESTRICTIONS: All commercial use restricted. Contact the Maryland State Archives Curator of Photographs for information concerning use. 
    SOURCE:  Marion E. Warren Photograph Collection, MSA SC 1890-4560
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  3. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Lombard and Liberty streets
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
      1904
    RESTRICTIONS: All commercial use restricted. Contact the Maryland State Archives Curator of Photographs for information concerning use.  
    SOURCE:  Marion E. Warren Photograph Collection, MSA SC 1890-4574
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  4. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Soldier guarding West Baltimore Street from bridge
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
      1904
    RESTRICTIONS: All commercial use restricted. Contact the Maryland State Archives Curator of Photographs for information concerning use.  
    SOURCE:  Marion E. Warren Photograph Collection, MSA SC 1890-4576
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  5. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Pier scene with fireboats
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:   1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to order copies of this item
    SOURCE:  (Z24.61.VF)
    REPOSITORY: Maryland Historical Society

  6. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Burning buildings
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:   1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to order copies of this item
    SOURCE:  (Z24.64.VF)
    REPOSITORY: Maryland Historical Society

  7. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Fire Engine
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
      1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to order copies of this item
    SOURCE:  (Z24.148VF)
    REPOSITORY: Maryland Historical Society

AFTERMATH OF THE FIRE

  1. DESCRIPTION: Newspaper, "Baltimore Saved Loss $150,000,000"
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: February 9, 1904
    SOURCE: The Historical New York Times

  2. DESCRIPTION: Newspaper, "Flames Raged for near 40 Hours"
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: February 9, 1904
    SOURCE: The Historical New York Times

  3. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Militia men on guard in the burned district
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
      1904
    RESTRICTIONS: All commercial use restricted. Contact the Maryland State Archives Curator of Photographs for information concerning use.  
    SOURCE:  Marion E. Warren Photograph Collection, MSA SC 1890-4491
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  4. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Engine 15 deserted during collapse of Hurst Building.
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
      1904
    RESTRICTIONS: All commercial use restricted. Contact the Maryland State Archives Curator of Photographs for information concerning use.  
    SOURCE:  Marion E. Warren Photograph Collection, MSA SC 1890-4646
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  5. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, East Baltimore Street from Charles Street after the great fire of February 4, 1904
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    February 9, 1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to order prints
    SOURCE:  Baltimore County Legacy Web
    REPOSITORY: Baltimore County Public Library

  6. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, ruins of the Hopkins Place Savings Bank
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    February 9, 1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to order prints
    SOURCE:  Baltimore County Legacy Web
    REPOSITORY: Baltimore County Public Library

  7. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, unidentified panorama after the 1904 fire
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    February 9, 1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to order prints
    SOURCE:  Baltimore County Legacy Web
    REPOSITORY: Baltimore County Public Library

  8. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, unidentified buildings destroyed by the great Baltimore fire of February 4, 1904
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    February 9, 1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to order prints
    SOURCE:  Baltimore County Legacy Web
    REPOSITORY: Baltimore County Public Library

  9. DESCRIPTION: Video, Excerpt from the film, The Great Fire of Baltimore
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     1904
    REPRODUCTIONS
    COPYRIGHT
    SOURCE:  Great Baltimore Fire of 1904
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress, Washington, DC

  10. DESCRIPTION[Panoramic photograph of Baltimore fire].
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     c 1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to Order Photographic Reproductions
    COPYRIGHTCopyright and Other Restrictions
    SOURCE:  Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  11. DESCRIPTION[Panoramic photograph of Baltimore fire].
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     c 1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to Order Photographic Reproductions
    COPYRIGHTCopyright and Other Restrictions
    SOURCE:  Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  12. DESCRIPTION[Panoramic photograph of Baltimore fire].
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     c 1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to Order Photographic Reproductions
    COPYRIGHTCopyright and Other Restrictions
    SOURCE:  Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  13. DESCRIPTION[Panoramic photograph of Baltimore fire].
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     c 1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to Order Photographic Reproductions
    COPYRIGHTCopyright and Other Restrictions
    SOURCE:  Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  14. DESCRIPTIONBaltimore Harbor after fire
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     c 1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to Order Photographic Reproductions
    COPYRIGHTCopyright and Other Restrictions
    SOURCE:  Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  15. DESCRIPTIONCycloramic view of Baltimore's big fire from Hanover St.
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     c 1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to Order Photographic Reproductions
    COPYRIGHTCopyright and Other Restrictions
    SOURCE:  Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  16. DESCRIPTIONCycloramic view of the burned area of Baltimore's big fire
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     c 1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to Order Photographic Reproductions
    COPYRIGHTCopyright and Other Restrictions
    SOURCE:  Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  17. DESCRIPTIONBaltimore Street west of St. Paul
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow To Order Copies of This Item
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  18. DESCRIPTIONSoutheast over Baltimore Street and Hopkins Place, where the great fire started, Baltimore, Md
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     1904
    REPRODUCTIONS
    How To Order Copies of This Item
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  19. DESCRIPTIONA scene of desolation, a section of the fire area, Baltimore
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     1904
    REPRODUCTIONS
    How To Order Copies of This Item
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  20. DESCRIPTIONMilitiamen on guard, burned district, Baltimore, Md
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow To Order Copies of This Item
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  21. DESCRIPTION: Newspaper, "$40,000,000 Fire Loss in Baltimore"
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: February 8, 1904
    SOURCE: The Historical New York Times

REBUILDING THE CITY

  1. DESCRIPTIONReport of the "Citizens' relief committee' appointed after the great Baltimore fire
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     [Baltimore, 1904]
    COPYRIGHT: Copyright and Other Restrictions
    SOURCE:  The Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region, ca. 1600-1925
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress, Washington, DC

  2. DESCRIPTIONGetting ready to rebuild - Clearing up the ruins of the burned city, Baltimore
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow To Order Copies of This Item
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  3. DESCRIPTIONTearing down a dangerous wall, burned district, Baltimore, Md
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
     1904
    REPRODUCTIONSHow To Order Copies of This Item
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Additional Media Resources

Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. From Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Secondary Resources

Photographic views and description of the great Baltimore $175,000,000 fire, February 7, 8, 9, 1904. Balts. [i.e., Baltimore, Md.] : E.D. Read & Sons, Printers, [1904]

Henderson, Daniel McIntyre. Baltimore : the book of the fire : a word picture and a series of illustrations showing the progress of the great conflagration and its disastrous results. Baltimore : D.M. Henderson, c 1904

Petersen, Peter B. The Great Baltimore Fire. Baltimore: The Press at the Maryland Historical Society, 2004.

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Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Nancy Bramucci.

 

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