Thursday, May 5, 2022

Have You Ever Wanted to Play Historian?


San Francisco, Cal. (1944)

03/27/1944: Over a period of four hours, five San Francisco skid row hotels “burst into flames” following a previous weekend of 11 fires in Oakland hotels.  The New Amsterdam Hotel fire killed 22 and injured 27.  “Authorities noted an odor of kerosene or gasoline.”  One tenant, 33, showed injuries from the fire and was held in the “hospital psychopathic ward.”

Category: public

Suicide: no

Cause: mental illness

Weapon: arson[1]

[1] " 22 Killed In Hotel Fire In San Francisco," [Santa Cruz, Cal.] Santa Cruz Sentinel, Mar. 29, 1944, 1.

I see no mention of deaths in the other 15 hotel fires.  It would be interesting to know if the residents of these other flophouses were just lucky.  If you decide that this sort of sleuthing appeals to you, visit the California Digital Newspaper Collection and search for news stories with hotel fire Oakland or San Francisco in March 1944.  You will likely find a lot of fascinating news along the way.  (This is part of why my research assistant and I drag ourselves through ancient disasters, week after week.)  The California Digital Newspaper Collection seems to be down at the moment, but I am sure once the hamsters are again on their wheel, there will be enough power to operate the University of California, Riverside.

No comments:

Post a Comment