In 1900, a fire at the Hoboken Pier in New Jersey killed over 300 people. This guide provides access to materials related to the “Hoboken Pier Fire” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
“Such was the tremendous spectacle presented on the surface of the Hudson River as if it had been some holiday pageant. It was made tragic by the realization that somewhere in that smoke, somewhere beneath the turbid waters, scores of lives had been lost, or were then in their last desperate struggle against death,” read the July 1, 1900 Indianapolis Journal. The legacy of the Hoboken Pier fire was long lasting and eventually forced new changes and regulations on piers and steamships. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
June 30, 1900 4:00PM
Fire starts among cotton bales and quickly spreads to the piers of Hoboken, NJ.
June 30, 1900 4:30PM - 5:30PM
The fire spreads a quarter of a mile. Three ocean liners and dozens of small craft are engulfed in flames.
June 30, 1900 7:00PM
Piers 1-3 are burned to the ground. Over 300 people are killed. Over $10 million in damages is done.