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Interpreting the Evidence

Fireboat, New York City, c. 1900

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York City
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Fireboat, New York City, c. 1900 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
New York City fireboat “The New Yorker” in action, circa 1900.
Historical Context
The fireboat “The New Yorker” began its service on February 1, 1891.  “The New Yorker” cost $98,000 to build.  She was stationed at the Battery near Castle Garden and was part of Engine Co. 57.  “The New Yorker” was 125 feet long and weighed 243 tons.  This fireboat was able to pump 13,000 gallons of water per minute.  The crew lived on board the fireboat.  “The New Yorker” was the most powerful fireboat in the world during its day and remained in service until 1931.
Essential Question
How do human settlement patterns impact public safety?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain why this equipment was necessary.
Historical Challenges
Research the history of fireboats. In what year was a boat with a water pump first used to fight a fire in the United States? Are fireboats still used today?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: How many gallons of water per second could "The New Yorker" pump?
Science: How were early fireboats powered?