Fighting a Fire in New York City, ca. 1776

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Image Reference

Representation du fer terrible a Nouvelle Yorck [sic] (ca. 1776). (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

A separately published engraving, hand colored. Depicts fires burning in New York city; shows semi-clad black men carrying trunks and other goods out of burning buildings, fully clothed whites carrying water buckets, etc. The following information is derived from the John Carter Brown Library website, The Archive of Early American Images: "Image title in French is printed in reverse above image. Title in German at bottom of image. This perspective view, or "vue d'optique," was a special type of popular print published in Europe during the 18th century. These prints were viewed through a device called an "optical machine" or an 'optique.' On September 21, 1776, a destructive fire raced through New York City after Washington's army abandoned the city to the British. Since firefighting equipment had been sabotaged and warning bells had been melted for bullets by the colonists, the British suspected arson. A large part of the city from Trinity Church to the King's College was destroyed; it was estimated that one fourth of the city's dwellings were lost. This view is probably of a European town and is a fictitious rendering of New York City."