A History of Tenement House Legislation in New York 1852-1900 Part VIII
 

By Lawrence Veiller
 
 

In 1888 the Brooklyn Consolidation Act was passed, grouping together all previous enactments, and the provisions of the previous laws requiring a scuttle in the roof, with proper ladders or stairs leading thereto, were reenacted. It was also provided that any dwelling house already erected, over two stories in height and occupied by two or more families on any floor above the first, or by three or more families above the first story, should be provided with such fire-escapes and doors as might be directed by the Commissioner of Buildings; and a special penalty of $500 was imposed for the violation of this provision, it being deemed a misdemeanor.

In 1892 the New York Building Law was again amended, and the provisions of previous statutes were re-enacted, with a further provision that the Superintendent of Buildings should have full and exclusive power within the city to direct fire-escapes and other means of egress to be provided upon buildings of this kind. In 1894 the Brooklyn Consolidation Act was amended, giving the Brooklyn Commissioner the same full and exclusive power as was given to the New York Commissioner in 1892.

In 1897, in the Greater New York Charter, the provisions of the Tenement House Act of 1867 were reenacted, requiring that every tenement house should be provided with a proper fire-escape or such means of egress as might be approved by the Department of Buildings ; and in 1899, a local ordinance was adopted, known as "The Building Code," which, among other things, contained provisions upon this subject. Where fireproof apartment or tenement houses had a frontage of over forty feet, and where such buildings were over eighty-five feet in height, then they were required to have at least two separate fireproof stairways, accessible from each apartment, leading from the ground floor to the roof, and one of such stairways was required to be remote from elevator shafts. The Building Code also reenacted the provisions of the law of 1892, requiring that all tenement houses should be provided with good and sufficient fire-escapes and stairways, or other means of egress, as the Department of Buildings might direct, giving to this Department full and exclusive power and authority to direct such means of egress upon any building of this class. The present law is found in the provisions of the Charter and of the Building Code above quoted.

(1852) — Brooklyn —Chapter 355, Section 7.

Every building hereafter erected or built within the fire limits as aforesaid, shall have a scuttle or place of egress in the roof thereof. All scuttle frames and scuttle doors on every brick or stone dwelling-house or other building hereafter to be erected or built within the fire limits as aforesaid, shall be made of or covered with copper, zinc, tin or iron."

(1860) — Brooklyn — Chapter 474, Section 7. (Repeals Chapter 355, of the Laws of 1852.)

Every building having scuttles now built or hereafter erected or built, shall have a scuttle or place of egress in the roof thereof, with a ladder or stairs placed on the inside. All scuttle frames and scuttle doors on every brick or stone dwelling or other building hereafter to be erected or built within the fire limits shall be made of or covered with copper, tin, zinc or iron."

(1860) — Chapter 470, Section 25.

In all dwelling-houses which are built for the residence of more than eight families there shall be a fireproof stairs in a brick or stone or fireproof building attached to the exterior walls, and all the rooms on every story must communicate by doors; or if the fireproof stairs are not built as above then there must be fireproof balconies on each story on the outside of the building, connected by fireproof stairs, and all the rooms on every story must communicate by doors. If the buildings are not built with either the stairs or balconies as above specified then they must be built fireproof throughout. All ladders or stairs from upper stories to scuttles or
roofs of any building shall, if movable, be of iron; and if not movable may be of wood; and all scuttles shall not be less than three feet by two feet.

(1862) — Chapter 356, Section 27. (Repeals Section 25, Chapter 470, of the Laws of 1860.)
"

All dwelling-houses, in any part of the city of New York, already erected, or that may hereafter be built, that now are-, or may be more than forty feet high, that shall be occupied by or built to contain six or more families above the first story, and all dwelling-houses that shall be occupied by or built to contain eight or more families above the first story, shall have the stairway connected with a proper scuttle or other opening, leading to the roof, and all the rooms on each floor shall connect by doors from front to rear, and every said dwelling-house shall have placed thereon a practical fireproof fire escape that shall be approved of by the department for the surrey and inspection of buildings in the city of New York, and all front and rear tenement houses on the same lot shall he connected by an iron bridge; provided, that where any such building shall be built fireproof throughout, or where there are two or more dwelling-houses adjoining, and of equal height and with flat roofs, the same may be exempt from
the requirements of this section."

(1866) — Chapter 873, Section 23.

"All building; in the city of New York whether already erected or hereafter to be built shall have scuttle frames and doors or bulkheads leading to the roof, made of or covered with some fireproof material, and shall have stairways or stationary iron ladders leading to the same, and all such scuttles or stairways or ladders leading to the roof shall be kept so as to be ready for use at all times, and all scuttles shall not be less size than two feet by three feet."

(1866) — Chapter 873, Section 32. 

"All dwelling-houses in any part of the city of New York already erected, or that may hereafter be built, that now are or may be forty feet high that shall be built to contain or be occupied by six or more families above the first story, and all dwelling-houses that shall be built to contain or be occupied by eight or more families above the first story, shall have a stairway connected with a proper scuttle or other opening, leading to the roof, and all the rooms on each floor shall connect by doors from front to rear; and every such dwelling-house shall have placed thereon a practical fireproof fire escape that shall be approved of by the department for the survey and inspection of buildings in the city of New York, and all front and rear tenement-houses on the same lot shall be connected by an iron bridge; provided, that where any such building shall be built fireproof throughout, or where there are two or more dwelling-houses adjoining and of equal height and with flat roofs, the same may be exempt from the requirements of placing thereon fireproof fire escapes."

(1866) — Brooklyn — Chapter 858, Section 7.

Every building hereafter erected or built within the fire limits shall have a scuttle or place of egress in the roof thereof of proper size, and shall have ladders or stairways leading to the same, and all such scuttles and stairways or ladders leading to the roof shall be kept in readiness for use at all times. All scuttle frames and scuttle doors shall be made of or
covered with copper, zinc, tin or iron."

(1867) — Chapter 908, Section 3.

"Every house, building, or portion thereof in the cities of New York and Brooklyn, designed to be used, occupied, leased or rented, or which is used, occupied, leased or rented for a tenement or lodging-house, shall be provided with a proper fire escape or means of escape in case of fire, to be approved in New York by the inspector of buildings, and in Brooklyn by the assistant sanitary superintendent of the Metropolitan board of health."

(1867) — Chapter 939, Section 10. (Amends Section 32, Chapter 873, of the Laws of 1866.)

"All dwelling-houses that now are or may hereafter be erected in the city of New York, to contain or be occupied by four or more families above the first story, shall have a stairway connected with a proper opening, leading to the roof, and all the rooms on each floor shall connect by doors from front to rear; and every such dwelling-house shall have placed thereon a practical fireproof fire escape, that shall be approved of by the superintendent of buildings, and in no case hereafter shall a front and rear tenement house be erected on the same lot unless the said houses, and each of them, shall be built fireproof."


 

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: A History of Tenement House Legislation in New York 1852-1900 Part VIII
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina

Source:

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Tenement House Problem; Including the Report of the New York State Tenement House Commission of 1900. By Various Writers; The MacMillan Company-New York 1903
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