Did you ever wonder why the Hook and Ladder 8 Firehouse is so skinny? I did, but always assumed it was due to the high cost New York real estate. Not so - the original firehouse was twice the size.
This is actually the third location for the Company that was established in the early 1800’s on Franklin Street. Moved to North Moore Street in 1866, the firehouse was again relocated, just a few doors down, when this beauty was built in 1904. Not ten years later, the city decided to widen Varick Street by 30 feet, and as a result, the building was cut in half - literally.
It’s a testament to the stonemasons of the time that the resulting changes are all but invisible. Architectural historians have studied the building, and are amazed at how meticulously elements from the original building were salvaged and re-incorporated.
This is what the original firehouse looked like.
Photo from Daytonian in Manhatan
It’s interesting to see the size of the horse-drawn firetrucks back then, and note how much smaller they are than today’s version. I’ve witnessed the truck exit and enter through that doorway many times and it’s a tight fit for a skilled driver, or chauffeur as they are known.
We almost lost the firehouse a few years ago to city wide cutbacks. But the neighbors protested and Number 8 was saved, for now.