It could be naturally assumed that if the Department grew as the City grew, it would grow from the Downtown area out. If that is the case, why is it that our current Downtown companies are the 7's and the 13's, and the 1's and 2's are; well, not Downtown.
I was recently asked about this, and as I was answering the question, it occurred to me that a look at all of the Engine Companies that have served the Downtown area would make an interesting story. There are some that everyone knows about; a couple of "swaps", and a few surprises. Furthermore, for the purposes of this story, the Downtown boundaries are a little on the flexible side.
The following is a listing of the Stations and Companies that started as, became, or are still Downtown Companies.
Station 1Was located at 441 Indiana Ave until 1938, when it began working it's way west.
Station 2As everyone should know, the old 2's is located at 748 Massachusetts Ave, the present home of Local 416. After a stay of about 70 years at 16th and Roosevelt, they moved way out east.
Station 3Was located at 440 Virginia Ave before moving to Fountain Square.
Station 4These poor guys have been everywhere. Started out at 601 Russell St., moved over to Morris and Madison, and then to the West Side in three different houses. Their reward for all that moving? They were disbanded a couple of years ago.
Station 5They have been serving from the same area since 1874.
Station 6One of the original Downtown houses, the 6's were at Washington and West for 60 years, ran out of Station 13 for 20 some years, moved to a new station at 900 W Washington in 1952, and were disbanded in 1974.
Station 7Has always been in the Mile Square, and since the late 1800's, have been considered the Headquarters Station.
Station 8 Engine 8 started out in the old 2's on Massachusetts Ave in 1895, then moved to 636 E. 11th Street in 1932, and was disbanded in 1973. The first of nine Engine Companies we have lost.
Station 9While it seemed that the 9's was in Haughville forever, that was the last of 4 stops for them. They started off as Hose Reel Company 9 in 1871, and were located at 31 W. St Joseph Street in the first new Station built for the paid Department.
Station 10Here's one that catches a lot of people by surprise. The 10's spent a lot of years in the Downtown area, beginning as Hose Reel 10 at Madison and Morris in 1881, swapped houses with the 4's in 1890, and stayed on Russell Street until 1941. At that time, they moved in with the 17's until 10/15/52 when Engine 10 became Engine 31. The 10's resurfaced in 1958.
Station 11What's interesting about the 11's is that the first two stations they occupied were "hand-me-downs". First open in 1891 in the old 3's on Virginia Ave, then in 1901 moved to 1030 E. Washington Street in the "Eastern" station that had been opened for the 15's in 1896. That was home until 1971 when they moved to their current location, and their first new home.
Station 12They weren't, they were, they weren't…. The 12's started out on N. Beville in 1896, moved Downtown to the house on Virginia Ave in 1901(the City got their money out of that house) and then to a HUGE new station at South and New Jersey in 1912. However, after only 3 years, it was back to the East Side and a new house on Sherman Drive where they were disbanded in 1994.
Station 13Always a Downtown station, they've had a nasty habit of being located where the next big building project is. Organized in 1896 what was know as the "Central" station at 26 E. Maryland. That was home until 1912 when they moved to a new station at 102 Kentucky Ave, the sister house to the 12's. Displaced by the Convention Center in 1969, they moved to 56 S. Senate, where they were displaced by the Westin in 1986, and then on to their current home.
Station 15As mentioned under Station 11, the 15's were the first to occupy the station at 1030 E. Washington Street, making them an Official Downtown company, if only for 5 years.
Station 17These guys did it the other way. They started out on the West Side at Morris and West, then traded places with the 4's in 1901. They were at Morris and Madison until 1938,then they moved into a new house at 1147 Madison during 1941, and served as the South Downtown Box Company until the Engine was disbanded in 1982.
Station 28Here's one that you might not have known about. Engine 28 was placed in service at the old Truck house at 125 E. South Street in 1907. It was a short stay, as the station was badly damaged by an explosion at a nearby building in 1910. The 28's were temporarily mothballed and moved into their new house on Maple Road (38th Street) in 1915. They were disbanded in 1996.
Station 30Remember that HUGE Station 12 on New Jersey? Well, when the 12's moved East, Engine 30 was organized at that location. Serving as a Downtown company for over 39 years, the station was sold in 1954, with the Engine moving to the 13's, and the Ladder becoming Truck 31. Both Engine and Truck 30 would later reappear on the West Side in 1958.
Station 31A firefighter once told me that he had spent literally weeks driving around the North Side looking for the old 31's. There wasn't one, at least at that time, because like so many other companies, the 31's started out Downtown. The old Central Station at 26 E. Maryland Street was kept by the Department after the 13's moved on. In 1915, Engine 31 was organized there, and stayed until 1922. They also spent some time at the new 13's and eventually were disbanded. In October of 1952, Engine 31 was reorganized in a new house at 1201 E. 46th Street.
Well, that's a look at the Companies that at one time or another, were part of the Downtown District. As you can see, a large part of the Department began there, or is still there. I don't know if you kept score or not, but of the nine Engine companies that we have eliminated since 1973, seven of them were part of this Downtown history.
With 18 of our Stations either beginning life Downtown, or serving at least some time there, it's safe to say that yes, like the City, the Department started Downtown, and grew from there.