Thursday, October 01, 2009

A picture history of the General Slocum disaster of June 15, 1904

The great Slocum disaster of 1904 was the worst disaster in New York History till September 11, 2001. I have an article in this blog already about the disaster. But I just found more pictures on a story of the disaster in Munsey's Magazine of December 1904. I thought since most people will not have a copy of the December 1904 issue of Munsey's, I would provide you with the pictures in that article. I also added a few more of the vessel and the funeral and lastly the monument to those lost that day in 1904.

It is a disaster that few truly remember. One of the reasons is, it was filled with rather poor German immigrants. Had high society been on the Slocum there would have been memorials all over and court cases trying to find why such an event happened. There was a court case on this, but it really did not effect much.
There were investigations on why life preservers that were useless were marked by safely inspectors from New York City as safe? The lifeboats were wired to the deck? The fire system did not work. One can see that the inspectors of New York City never looked at the ship and were given bribes most probably.

But look at these graphic pictures and wonder with a shore close on each side of the ship....why didn't the captain stop on one of them? Why did over one thousand people have to perish needlessly. It was a disaster that never needed to happen. The captions on the bottom of each picture tells it all.....The General Slocum. The ship was a disaster waiting to happen.

The life preservers were filled with cork dust. In this case the items that were designed to save lives soaked up water and became deadly pieces of waterlogged material

This is a funeral of the unknown bodies from the disaster.

This fountain in Tompkins Square Park was dedicated in 1906 to the memory of all those who were lost in the great disaster. Today few people even know of its existence. However every year on the anniversary of the disaster a small memorial takes place.
Now what of the hulk of the General Slocum and the Knickerbocker Steamship Company that owned it? The General Slocum was rebuilt into a barge and made more money for the company. The Knickerbocker Steamship Company paid little fines, it was all quickly forgotten. That barge sailed till 1911, when it thankfully sank.