9. Slocum Memorial Fountain
Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan’s East Village is where you will find a memorial dedicated to a tragedy with the highest death toll in New York City history until the September 11th attacks, and to this day, the worst inland-water, peacetime tragedy in U.S. history.
The Slocum Memorial Fountain, located in the north side of the park, pays tribute to the General Slocum passenger steamboat disaster that took place on June 15, 1904. The Slocum was a triple-decker wooden ship built in 1891 and it served as an excursion steamer. Excursion steamers were a popular way for working class New Yorkers to escape the city for a little while. The Slocum’s usual route was to Rockaways, but for its final voyage it was to take a large party to Locust Grove on Long Island. The ship actually caught fire at the treacherous junction of the East River, New York Harbor and the Long Island Sound. Many blamed the incident on inadequate safety precautions and the negligence of the Captain.
Since it was a weekday, the majority of the disaster’s over 1,000 victims were German immigrant mothers and children. Bruno Louis Zimm designed the memorial which is made of pink Tennesee marble with a relief sculpture of two children and flowers. The spout of the fountain is a lion’s head. The inscription on the side reads:
IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE DISASTER TO THE STEAMER GENERAL SLOCVM JVNE XV MCMIV”