Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Fighting a Fire

Artist:
William P. Chappel (American, 1801–1878)
Date:
1870s
Medium:
Oil on slate paper
Dimensions:
6 x 9 1/8 in. (15.2 x 23.2 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Edward W. C. Arnold Collection of New York Prints, Maps, and Pictures, Bequest of Edward W. C. Arnold, 1954
Accession Number:
54.90.495
Not on view
Between 1800 and 1810, the number of firefighters across the city expanded from 600 to 1,005—a response to the dramatic growth in population and rapid urban development. Most homes and businesses were still made of wood; the bulky manual pump engines had to be dragged to fires by hand; and local water supplies were consistently insufficient. At times the only option left to firefighters and neighbors was to help remove the homeowner’s property, and prevent thieves from stealing it. Before more advanced firefighting technologies emerged in the 1820s, all residents were required by law to own a leather fire bucket for use in water lines, as depicted here.
Inscription: [on the back]: No 8 / Citizens Supplying the Engines With / Water from the pumps in the time of a house on fire / in New York 1809 / W P Chappel
Edward W. C. Arnold, New York, until died 1954
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