The 1911 Capitol Fire

Capitol Fire
1911 Capitol Fire NYSM Home

On March 29, 1911, the fire broke out at 2:15 a.m. in the third floor Assembly Library of the New York State Capitol Building. It quickly spread through the corridor to the State Library. Flames burst through third floor windows on the western side. With books and wooden shelving adding fuel, the fire shot up the Great Western or "Million Dollar" Staircase to the fourth floor and the two towers.

Within a few hours, parts of the famous fa├žade collapsed. Officially, the fire was blamed on faulty wiring, though some argued that the careless toss of a cigar was more likely the cause.

This online exhibit is a photographic journey through this epic and tragic event in the history of the State of New York.


Except where noted, text and images are drawn from The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911
by Paul Mercer and Vicki Weiss.