St. George Hotel Fire Report
THE FIRE AREA
The St. George Hotel was the grandest of New York City’s
hotels when it
opened in 1926. Located in the Brooklyn Heights area of
the city, it had a total of 2,632
guestrooms in a complex of eight buildings that occupied
an entire city block.
1). Some of the original buildings dated back to 1885. All
the buildings were interconnected at the basement level,
and there were numerous connections on various floor levels
among the different buildings.
The complex was bordered by Pineapple Street to the north,
Clark Street to the
south, Hicks Street to the east and Henry Street on the
west. Many streets in the
Brooklyn Heights area are only 40 feet wide. Parking on
the streets in front of the fire
building further congested the area. Figure 1 shows the
block and the relationships of
the buildings to each other.
Over the years, several of the buildings in the complex
were vacated, while others were converted to residential
apartment use. Only the original St. George Hotel
building on the east end of the complex operated as a hotel
at the time of the fire.
The building of fire origin, known as the Clark Building,
was located at 51 Clark
Street. It was nine stores high, measured 75 feet wide by
90 feet deep, and had been
vacant for at least seven years.
The ten story Grill building was immediately west of the
Clark Building on the
corner of Clark and Hicks. Although the Grill Building was
only 25 feet deep, it had
100 feet of frontage on Clark Street. At one time the Grill
Building and the Clark
Building had been connected at each floor level with overhead
rolling fire doors at the
openings. After the Clark Building was vacated the fire
doors were closed and the openings were bricked over on
the Grill Building side.
The 31 story Tower Building ran nearly the length of the
block on Hicks Street,
between Clark and Pineapple Streets behind the Grill and
Clark Buildings. The Tower
building had 175 feet of frontage on Hicks Street and 150
feet on Pineapple Street. The
main entrance was at 111 Hicks Street. The Tower Building
was built in 1929 of protected steel construction and was
connected to the Grill Building at the basement level.
The portion of the Tower Building that fronts on Pineapple
Street was built as a free
standing structure known as the St. George Apartments. In
recent years the original
Tower building, the old St. George Apartments and the Grill
Building had all been combined into one residential building
known as the Tower Building.
East of the Tower Building were the six story Crosshall
and the eight story Pineapple Buildings. The Crosshall building
had a fifty-foot frontage on Pineapple Street, while the
Pineapple Building at 60 Pineapple Street is 115 feet wide
and, like Crosshall, is ninety feet deep.
The building that was being operated as the St. George
Hotel occupied the entire
east end of the block. The section that faces Pineapple
is eight stories tall, while the portion that faced Clark
Street was 12 stories tall. There were entrances on Henry
which had more than 200 feet of frontage, and on Clark Street,
which had 125 feet of
frontage. The New York City Transit Authority operates a
subway station under the St.
George Hotel with direct access from the lobby to the station.
The Weller Building, west of the St. George Hotel, was
four stories in height with
a 50 by 85 footprint. Between the Weller and the Clark Buildings
was the 12 story
Marquee Building, which had been vacant for several years.
The Marquee Building was
separated from the Weller Building by fire doors. The 50
by 85-foot Marquee Building
was open to the Clark Building on all floor levels. A common
one story covered courtyard
occupied the remaining open area between the buildings at
the west end of the block.
All the buildings on the block, except the 31 story portions
of the Tower Building,
were of ordinary construction. The Clark and Marquee Buildings
were both vacant at the
time of the fire while all of the other buildings were being
used as residential occupancies. The St. George Hotel had
some permanent residents and was also being used by
various city agencies to provide temporary housing for AIDS
patients. Standpipe systems
and partial sprinkler systems were present and functional
in the occupied building.
The vacant Clark Building had been legally and illegally
scavenged. Large sections of flooring were missing and the
standpipe system was partially dismantled.
Vagrants were known to frequent the building despite efforts
to keep the building sealed
as required by New York City codes.
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