What caused the “Great Fire of New York,” which started this evening at 25 Merchant Street, NYC?

560px-The_Great_Fire_of_the_City_of_New_York_Dec_16_1835December 16, 1835 — Fire consumed nearly 700 buildings buildings in New York City today. It spread to 17 city blocks — but only killed two people. It cost an estimated $20 million in property damage.

Spotted nearly 100 miles away in Philadelphia, the “Great Fire of New York,” began this evening in a five-story warehouse at 25 Merchant Street, now known as Beaver Street (at the intersection of Hanover Square and Wall Street).

Gale-force winds and below-freezing temperature made it nearly impossible to contain. Firefighters were forced to drill holes through ice in the river to access water, which later froze in the hoses and pipes. At about 2 a.m., Marines returned with gunpowder from the Brooklyn Navy Yard and began to blow up buildings in the fire’s path.

An investigation did not assess the blame and reported that the cause of the fire was a gas pipe that had burst and been ignited by a coal stove.

Sourceswikipediahistory1800s“History of New York”New-York Historical Society