May 7 Structural Failures - An Engineer's Aspect


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Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 7 Structural Failures

"Engineers ... are not superhuman. They make mistakes in their assumptions, in their calculations, in their conclusions. That they make mistakes is forgivable; that they catch them is imperative. Thus it is the essence of modern engineering not only to be able to check one's own work but also to have one's work checked and to be able to check the work of others."

- Henry Petroski

The 1925 Collapse of the Garfield Building in Brooklyn, New York

New Castle News, Thursday, May 7, 1925, Page 12.

Inside Floors Of Seven Story N. Y. Building Collapse


Two Fire Companies And Ambulances Sent To Scene--Casualties Are Unknown


(International News Service)

NEW YORK, May 7.--The inside floors and the cupola of a building at 26 Court street, Brooklyn, collapsed this morning, according to reports sent to police headquarters shortly after 11 o'clock. It was not known whether any one was injured or killed.

The two fire companies and ambulances were sent to the scene. The structure is seven stories and known as the Garfield building. A large Childs restaurant occupies the first floor.

1941 Building Collapse in Cairo, Illinois

The Brainerd Daily Dispatch, Brainerd, Minnesota, Wednesday, May 7, 1941, Page 4.

Today's News in Pictures

Building Collapse Kills 1, Injures 7

A woman was killed, seven other persons crushed in the debris of a two-story brick building which collapsed in Cairo, Ill. No reasons for the fall of the building, which was used as a post office early in the Civil War, were given.

Tragic Bridge Collapse in Istanbul - 1950

The San Antonio Light, San Antonio, Texas, Monday, May 8, 1950, Page 1.

25 Killed in Bridge Collapse

ISTANBUL, May 8.--(AP)--A bridge in northern Anatolio collapsed yesterday, dropping a bus filled with 49 passengers into a deep ravine below. Twenty-five of the passengers were killed, the other 24 were hurt. The accident occurred on a road 17 miles from Amasya.

1959 Collapse of Building Under Construction in New York

The Hays Daily News, Hays, Kansas, Thursday, May 7, 1959, Page 1.

At Least One Dead, Several Hurt As Building Collapses

Westbury, N. Y., May 7--(AP)--The steel structure and roofing of a big industrial building under construction collapsed today, killing one workman and injuring several others. Men and machines tore at the wreckage in a search for possible other victims.

It was not immediately ascertained how many were in the structure when it came down with a roar shortly before 11 a.m.

First reports to police were that there were as many as 100. After some 2 1/2 hours, the figure was scaled down. Prevailing opinion placed the number around 15.

At least six were hospitalized with concussion, cuts and other injuries.

The dead man was identified as John Lake, 45, of New York City, a plumber.

Assistant Chief Inspector Francis B. Looney of Nassau County police said the best figures he could obtain indicated 14 persons were in the building.

Of these, he said, nine escaped unhurt, four were injured and one was killed.

However, nearby Meadowbrook hospital received six injured men.

Doubts Any in Rubble

Looney expressed doubt that anyone was left in the rubble.

The building was under construction at the Westbury Industrial Park about 30 miles east of New York City on Long Island. The steel framework had been erected and roofing and brick finishing work were under way. The structure, 200 feet long and 150 feet wide, was to house an electronics firm.

A steel girder in the roof was believed to have given way, causing the avalanche of steel and


Building Collapse
(Turn to Page 4)

The Hays Daily News, Hays, Kansas, Thursday, May 7, 1959, Page 4.

Building Collapse
(Continued from Page 1)


wood to cascade downward.

When the crash came with little or no warning, there was a wild scramble for life. Some escaped. One group of 15 men had left the building an instant before the collapse.

Al Long of Islip Terrace, at work on a nearby building, gave this description:

"All I saw was men running out from under the thing as it fell. Some made it but most didn't. The entire roof just fell over."

Another witness, Verge Abbatiello of Westbury, also standing nearby, said:

"I heard a tremendous roar and turned around. There was thick smoke rising up like a bomb. I heard a guy scream."

There was no fire and Abbatiello apparently mistook dust for smoke.

Great crowds of spectators watched rescue efforts, pressing against police lines set up around the wrecked building.

Another eyewitness, Rudy Gumb, employed on work nearby, said he had stepped outside his own project for a cigarette when he heard a roaring, crunching noise.

He said the steel framework crashed with a sideways motion and huge billows of dust ballooned up.

Pulled Four From Wreckage

Gumb said he and another man, whom he didn't know, ran to the wreckage and began pulling men out of it. They rescued four, he said, but did not know how badly they were injured.

Bob Bove, an electrical engineer, glanced out of window of another building and saw the collapse. He raced over and freed a man whose arm was almost severed, he said.

The one known victim was said to be the foreman of a steamfitting crew. His name was not immediately learned.

Two hours after the collapse, authorities still were trying to ascertain how many men had been present and how many had been accounted for.

The Westbury area once was a center for the elite of the nation's society, with large luxurious homes and estates. Many of these still remain, despite large home developments of a more modest nature.

With the population growth many shopping and industrial centers have been built. Others are under construction.

Westbury also was once the center of the country's polo playing fraternity. Many famous matches of the past were staged in the vicinity.

1966 Paper Factory Collapse

The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, Sunday, May 8, 1966, Page 3-B.

Building Collapse Buries Five Alive

ATHENS (AP) -- Five construction workers were buried beneath the debris of a building that collapsed unexpectedly here yesterday. Twenty others were seriously injured.

Rescue teams dug into the ruins in an attempt to find the five missing workers but police expressed belief they were killed beneath tons of debris that fell with a roar. the construction workers were building an additional floor on a paper factory.