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Josiah Wagener
NYC fire towers
Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:19

It is my understanding that New York City had some fire watch towers in the late 18th to mid 19th centuries where a watchman would look for signs of a fire breaking out in the city and ring a bell to summon the fire companies. In later years I think they gave up on the idea of full time watchmen but kept the bell towers for alerting the firemen. I believe that the High Bridge water tower on the north end of Manhattan island may have served this purpose at one time.

  • NYS Fire TowersFDNYhistory, Thu Aug 28 07:45
    I have the same questions as David, Susan. Many fire towers still exist, even though dormant, in New York State which you could get original photos of as you need. Simply Google "New York State Fire... more
    • NYC fire towers — Josiah Wagener , Fri Aug 29 10:19
      • NYC Watch TowersFDNYhistory, Fri Aug 29 10:51
        I actually have images of several of them in my upcoming book, "New York City Fires and Firefighters: Illustrations from 19th Century Newspapers"
        • Fire Tower ImageSusan C, Fri Sep 5 10:33
          Hi, I am specifically looking for a wooden type tower that might have been around in the 1800's. some of the early 1900's towers might have been wooden and might work, it just depends. The size of... more
          • Re: Fire Tower ImageFDNYhistory, Fri Sep 5 11:57
            Please send email to so I have your return address to send anything I can to you.
            • Fire Watch TowerSusan C, Fri Sep 5 12:37
              Hi, thank you for the help. I will send you my email address.
          • Re: Fire Tower ImageFDNYhistory, Fri Sep 5 10:48
            Again, as asked by others; what "tower" are you looking for? Hose Tower, Watch Tower? You have yet to say.
            • Fire Watch towerSusan C, Fri Sep 5 11:48
              Hi, sorry, I am looking for a Fire Watch tower or Lookout tower. Not a specific tower so much as one that is from the time period of the late 1800's or early 1900's. it needs to be wooden and not... more
              • Re: Fire Watch towerFDNYhistory, Fri Sep 5 11:53
                OK great, I'll check my files. I believe I have some that I can send to you.
    • Fire towerBill Hall, Thu Aug 28 13:15
      My first impression of the question was a fire tower, meaning fire apparatus. A fire tower could also be an elevating tower with a fire nozzle on the end to reach high areas and roofs. Most were... more
      • Re: Fire towerJReese, Fri Aug 29 00:36
        My first thought went toward the hose tower.
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