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The story of firefighting in New York City is one of danger, tradition, pride, excitement, and tragedy. It is also the story of man's triumph over destructive forces. From the gaslight days of horse-drawn steam engines to the World Trade Center tragedy of 2001, the heroic men and women who make up the city's most dynamic public service have risked and often lost their lives in order to protect and serve the people of New York City. New York City Firefighting: 1901-2001 chronicles the proudest fire department in America. The proximity of buildings in the city streets and the construction materials made each fire especially dangerous, but determined firefighters never hesitated to battle the flames and rescue the victims. Later, facing unprecedented heights and unparalleled danger, firefighters in New York City were called upon to battle infernos in the first skyscrapers, often using the most rudimentary equipment and barely protected from the flames. In its most trying moments, the Fire Department of New York responded to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001, dutifully rushing into the towers to save as many lives as possible and ultimately losing hundreds of their own.
Fire has shaped New York City's skyline and has transformed its political and cultural landscape. Historic Fires of New York City traverses the five boroughs, exploring the historic fires that have occurred since the very beginning of the metropolis. Starting with bucket-wielding Dutch burghers and accelerating with the appointment of 35 "strong, able, discreet, honest and sober men," the effort to bring order out of chaos has been a constant concern of the city for more than three centuries.
Operated by the New York Board of Fire Underwriters, the New York Fire Patrol was organized in 1839 to patrol lower Manhattan. Their job was twofold: to discover fires and to prevent losses to insured properties. The New York Fire Patrol evolved, and in 1867, a state charter was granted to legally extinguish fires and conduct salvage operations throughout New York City. The New York Fire Patrol is the oldest paid fire service in the United States, and it also remains the last insurance-funded fire salvage corps in the country. Today, the fire patrol continues to serve the city of New York, responding to over 10,000 alarms each year alongside the Fire Department of New York.
German New York City celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the hundreds of thousands of German immigrants who left the poverty and turmoil of 19th- and 20th-century Europe for the promise of a better life in the bustling American metropolis. German immigration to New York peaked during the 1850s and again during the 1880s, and by the end of the 19th century New York had the third-largest German-born population of any city worldwide. German immigrants established their new community in a downtown Manhattan neighborhood that became known as Kleindeutschland or Little Germany. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, much of the German population moved north to the Upper East Side’s Yorkville and subsequently spread out to the other boroughs of the city.
Since the earliest years of city history, New York's firefighters have put their lives on the line to protect its citizens from fire.
""Fires and firefighting in Boston from the seventeenth century to the present. Includes the Great Fire of 1872, the Cocoanut Grove fire, the Vendome fire, and others.""
New York City, 1968. The RAND Corporation had presented an alluring proposal to a city on the brink of economic collapse: Using RAND's computer models, which had been successfully implemented in high-level military operations, the city could save millions of dollars by establishing more efficient public services. The RAND boys were the best and brightest, and bore all the sheen of modern American success. New York City, on the other hand, seemed old-fashioned, insular, and corrupt-and the new mayor was eager for outside help, especially something as innovative and infallible as "computer modeling." A deal was struck: RAND would begin its first major civilian effort with the FDNY. Over the next decade-a time New York City firefighters would refer to as "The War Years"-a series of fires swept through the South Bronx, the Lower East Side, Harlem, and Brooklyn, gutting whole neighborhoods, killing more than two thousand people and displacing hundreds of thousands. Conventional wisdom would blame arson, but these fires were the result of something altogether different: the intentional withdrawal of fire protection from the city's poorest neighborhoods-all based on RAND's computer modeling systems. Despite the disastrous consequences, New York City in the 1970s set the template for how a modern city functions-both literally, as RAND sold its computer models to cities across the country, and systematically, as a new wave of technocratic decision-making took hold, which persists to this day. In The Fires, Joe Flood provides an X-ray of these inner workings, using the dramatic story of a pair of mayors, an ambitious fire commissioner, and an even more ambitious think tank to illuminate the patterns and formulas that are now inextricably woven into the very fabric of contemporary urban life. The Fires is a must read for anyone curious about how a modern city works.

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