Community Service Society Photographs

Rare Book & Manuscript Library @ Columbia University

Boys Playing in Open Fire Hydrants, Lower East Side

Boys Playing in Open Fire Hydrants, Lower East Side
CSS Description
(Negative on file) See #3009 - Same scene Box 298 Folder 9 #3006 Hiram Myers? Looking North on Mulberry Street from between Grand and Hester. According to long-time residents of the neighborhood, this type of fire plug was called a "Johnny" plug. Why, they do not know. How does it happen that a fire hydrant is often called a "fire plug? According to Kenneth Holcomb Dunshee, in his book about New York's early Volunteer Fire Companies, entitled "As You Pass By (published by Hastings House, N.Y., c1952), at page 101, When sections of old New York were excavated, old water mains, buried for well over a century, were brought to light. These were the bored-out logs by which water was carried to the first hydrants. The openings for the engines were reached by the removal of large wooden plugs and it was from this device that the street hydrant got the name of a fire 'plug'." Before this innovation, "... the engine companies were forced to get as close as possible to the docks along the North and East Rivers, or else draw their supply from wells and pumps which were often incapable of meeting their requirements."
Item Information
Title
Boys Playing in Open Fire Hydrants, Lower East Side
Date
between 1879 and 1950
Date Note
Date based on the date range (1879-1950) of the photographic portion of the Community Service Society Collection.
Item Number
119
Photograph Number
3006
Format
photographs
Borough
Manhattan
Street Names
Mulberry Street
Hester Street
Grand Street
Annotation on Back
negative on file
Places
New York (N.Y.); Lower East Side (New York, N.Y.)
Topics
Streets; Play; Hydrants; Children; Boys
Creators
Myers, Hiram
Box and Folder Number
13: 36
CSS Description
(Negative on file) See #3009 - Same scene Box 298 Folder 9 #3006 Hiram Myers? Looking North on Mulberry Street from between Grand and Hester. According to long-time residents of the neighborhood, this type of fire plug was called a "Johnny" plug. Why, they do not know. How does it happen that a fire hydrant is often called a "fire plug? According to Kenneth Holcomb Dunshee, in his book about New York's early Volunteer Fire Companies, entitled "As You Pass By (published by Hastings House, N.Y., c1952), at page 101, When sections of old New York were excavated, old water mains, buried for well over a century, were brought to light. These were the bored-out logs by which water was carried to the first hydrants. The openings for the engines were reached by the removal of large wooden plugs and it was from this device that the street hydrant got the name of a fire 'plug'." Before this innovation, "... the engine companies were forced to get as close as possible to the docks along the North and East Rivers, or else draw their supply from wells and pumps which were often incapable of meeting their requirements."