On May 10, 1862, much of downtown Troy [N.Y.] was destroyed by the worst fire the city has ever known. Sparks from a steam engine set fire to the wooden bridge to Green Island, and a strong wind spread the flames across the city. By night fall, over 500 houses, stores and businesses on seventy-five acres were no more than smoking ruins.[Sidebar]
The Great Fire occurred at the height of the Civil War, when Troy's economy was booming with war-related industries. Rebuilding began almost immediately, and within six months, all of River Street had been rebuilt. Many of the new buildings, like those on Fifth Avenue, were designed in the fashionable Italianate style with round-arched doors and windows and heavy stone moldings.
Troy, May 11, 1862. The horse and wagon are on Fifth Avenue, facing south at the corner of Federal Street. The shaded portion of the 1858 map shows the area destroyed by the Great Fire. [Rensselaer County Historical Society map, Joseph A. Parker photograph]