Social New York under the Georges, 1714-1776: Houses, Streets, and Country Homes, with Chapters on Fashions, Furniture, China, Plate, and Manners

By Esther Singleton | Go to book overview

III
HOUSE-BUILDING, FIRES, RENTS AND MAILS

THE citizen was ever in dread of fire. Houses built in the Eighteenth Century were principally of wood. The introduction of fire-engines in 1731 was due to Stephen de Lancey and his partner, John Moore. They sent to London in May of that year for two engines "with suction and materials thereto," and upon their arrival a room in the City Hall was arranged for their accommodation. They were used for the first time on Dec. 6th, 1732, when a fire broke out at midnight in a joiner's house. The report says: "it began in the garret where the people were all asleep, and burnt violently; but by the help of the two fire-engines which came from London in the ship Beaver, the fire was extinguished, after having burnt down that house and damaged the next."

Within a very few years, engines were being manufactured here. In 1739, "A Fire Engine that will deliver 2 Hogsheads of Water in a minute, in a continued Stream is to be Sold by Wm. Lindsay the Maker thereof."

In 1731, a law for the better preventing of fire required two viewers of chimneys and hearths to see that the latter were kept clean. It also ordered every owner of a house that had three fire-places to keep two leather buckets on hand; and one bucket, if less

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