Park Central Hotel Boiler Explosion – Today in History: February 18
Park Central Hotel disaster

Park Central Hotel disaster. Notice the number of people looking on - Connecticut Historical Society

Park Central Hotel following explosion

This photograph was taken by R.S. DeLamater, local Hartford photographer – Connecticut Historical Society

In the pre-dawn hours of February 18, 1889, the Park Central Hotel in Hartford was ripped apart by a steam boiler explosion. The hotel was at full occupancy. Twenty-two people lost their lives, and many more were severely injured.

Located at 54 High Street, the 15-year-old hotel, 5 stories high, initially measured 125 feet long and 40 feet wide and contained 40 rooms. An annex of 24 rooms for employees and guests’ servants was added several years before the explosion. The structure suffered from being built on shifting soil, and although the boiler explosion was to blame for the catastrophe, Hartford citizens, insurance company presidents, and politicians arose in common voice to demand stricter building inspection.

Hartford hotel disaster

Hartford hotel disaster, 54 High Street, Hartford, February 17, 1889 – Connecticut Historical Society

Learn More


The New York Times. “Nineteen Bodies Found; A Terrible Catastrophe in Hartford. Collapse of a Hotel Filled with Sleeping Guests.” February 19, 1889. Link.

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