Sanborn Fire Map of 1908 for the
Automatic Musical Company
Factory Building

Sanborn 1908 Fire Map.

(Photograph courtesy of Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, c. 1910,
Collection of Center for Technology & Innovation, Binghamton, NY)

A portion of a Sanborn 1908 Fire Map used to calculate insurance company fire ratings for an area that includes the Automatic Musical Company's factory building at 183-185 Water Street, Binghamton, New York.

Section of Sanborn Fire Map of the Automatic Musical Company's factory buidling.

(Photograph courtesy of Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, c. 1910,
Collection of Center for Technology & Innovation, Binghamton, NY)

This cropped portion of the above fire map image zeros in on the Automatic Musical Company's factory building, and the adjacent building used for some sort of wholesale grocery operation. According to the map, the Automatic Musical Company factory building is a 6 story structure of brick construction, with frame cornice, and some sort of non-combustible roof. There were Grinnell automatic sprinklers throughout, including the single story brick boiler room at the back of the factory. It appears that there was a steam driven electric dynamo (probably on the ground floor) that was not being used. Floor usage was as follows:

  • Basement: Storage of cases and a drying room approximately midway along the inside wall that adjoined the adjacent building.
  • 1st floor: Offices and packing. There was also a standard fire door into the adjacent building.
  • 2nd floor: Assembling.
  • 3rd floor: Machine work and iron work.
  • 4th floor: Varnishing.
  • 5th floor: Bench work, gluing & music roll making.
  • 6th floor: Use not specified?

The square with the letter "E" (near the map's topside of the factory building outline) represents an open elevator. Glenn Grabinsky, a savvy and technically oriented researcher of almost anything relating to mechanical music (and who also worked in the elevator industry for some years), had this to write regarding elevators of the time:

"Looking at the drawing you will notice that there is no delineation of an elevator shaft. That is because there is none. This is typical of very early installations in which they just cut holes in each floor with the rails passing through. The car would have been just a platform with a cross-head with rounded tops, which would pop open a two sided "trap" door on both sides that opened up to let the elevator car pass through. Likewise a linkage would allow it to open up on the way down. The main reason for the trap doors was not so much for safety of some one falling in the elevator shaft (they normally had railings around the sides of the openings) but rather to isolate each floor from the other in case of fire. Regardless of the type of drive (overhead belt, electric motor, or water hydraulic), these elevators ran from tiller rope control. My guess is that the S C Traps means shaft closing traps."

(Photograph courtesy of Sanborn Fire Insurance Key Chart, c. 1962,
Collection of Center for Technology & Innovation, Binghamton, NY)

Map key chart for Sanborn Fire Maps. This particular key chart is thought to be from the year 1962, and while it has some added and/or evolved keys that are not applicable to the above shown circa 1908-1910 Sanborn fire maps, it does, nevertheless, serve to explain the otherwise cryptic symbolic markings that were used.

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