Steamship “Lexington” aflame in center of in image. Men, women and children on rafts, or in boats or in water at center foreground. Partial map on bottom edge of print. Duplicate image (2004.D03.078) does not have partial map on bottom edge of print; This image also relates that 100 perished, its duplicate relates 120.
After William K. Hewitt American, 1818-1892 On January 13, 1840, the steamboat Lexington was traveling on its route from New York to Boston when it caught fire near Long Island Sound. Most of the lifeboats capsized and there were few survivors. Soon after, the Awful Conflagration of the Steam Boat Lexington was published in the New York Sun, the city’s largest newspaper. The picture ran alongside seven columns of text and a map of Long Island Sound. The image became Currier’s first financial success. According to records, interest in the disaster was so strong that Currier’s presses ran constantly for months to produce copies of the print. The popularity of the image encouraged Currier to publish more images of disasters, and the prints became a staple of the firm throughout the company’s history.