Creative and forgotten fire escape designs of the 1800s

Oh my. So many of these are insane! From Atlas Obscura: The Creative and Forgotten Fire Escape Designs of the 1800s.

In the morning of March 10, 1860, a crowd of several hundred New Yorkers looked up curiously at a long cloth chute dangling from the top of City Hall. The tube was supported by ropes along its sides, with one end fastened to the top of the building and the other held by people on the ground. “Through this bottomless bag the persons in danger are expected to slide,” reported Scientific American in its March 10 issue.

A group of adventurous boys and men slid daringly through the chute, the spectators both relieved and amused when they reached the ground in one piece.

That one doesn’t sound too bad, eh? We’ve seen the modern equivalent. But wait’ll you see the illustration for a “winged fire escape invention”. And this, oh this:

B.B. Oppenheimer’s 1879 patent for a fire escape helmet would have included a wax cloth chute, about four to five feet in diameter, attached in “a suitable manner” to the head. “A person may safely jump out of the window of a burning building from any height and land without injury and without the least damage on the ground,” Oppenheimer wrote. To soften the impact, his invention also featured overshoes with thick elastic bottom pads. [continue]

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