New York, April 16 (IANS/EFE) The Harlem Fire Watchtower, the last structure of its type in New York City, is in need of an immediate restoration to prevent it from disappearing as a landmark in northern Manhattan.
The 14-meter structure, also known as the Mount Morris Fire Watchtower, is in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem.
It was one of 11 such towers built in 1856 around New York City to protect Manhattan at a time when most buildings were constructed of wood.
“It is a system from well before the fire department and the necessary technology existed, so it was very useful for detecting fires in a city where the buildings were basically made of wood, a material that is very vulnerable to fire,” New York City Department of Parks and Recreation director of historic preservation John Krawchuk told EFE.
Steps were taken in 1990 to stabilize the deteriorating tower, but a recent city report warned that “without action, the life of the tower is limited”.
“We need $4.5 million to restore the tower,” Krawchuk said, adding that while the cost was high, the structure has significant historic value.
The 11 watchtowers, which communicated via a telegraph line, would ring bells to let volunteer firefighters know there was a blaze.
The towers began to be abandoned in 1878 as new methods for issuing fire alerts were developed.
The Harlem Fire Watchtower was declared a city historic landmark in 1967.