Fire on Marlborough Street [1975]

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On July 22, 1975, photograph Stanley J. Forman working for the Boston Herald American newspaper when a police scanner picked up an emergency: “Fire on Marlborough Street!”
Climbed on a the fire truck, Forman shot the picture of a young woman, Diana Bryant, and a very young girl, Tiare Jones when they fell helplessly. Diana Bryant was pronounced dead at the scene. The young girl lived. Despite a heroic effort, the fireman who tried to grab them had been just seconds away from saving the lives of both.

Photo coverage from the tragic event garnered Stanley Forman a Pulitzer Prize. But more important, his work paved the way for Boston and other states to mandate tougher fire safety codes.

Fire on Marlborough Street

Photographer: Stanley J. Forman
Source: bbc.co.uk

56 thoughts on “Fire on Marlborough Street [1975]

  1. if any of you know anything about anything you would understand the fire escape slipped from the building. how many arms do you have? im sorry the man couldnt save himself, the woman and the child in a tenth of a second.

  2. john says:

    “Caitilin you are one stupid person for saying that. try to have some RESPECT that may not be his job but that is a job for anyperson to do it is called doing the right thing just lik some one said drop the camera pal. yes he should have droped the camera and tryed to help. i bet he was there before all the emergency personal were even there. So he could have helped but he stood there like the stupid preson that he is a took a picture like a peosone would do if they had no heart. But the guy who was just doing his job let one poeson die and left one person to get hurt. so now do you t hink think that he was doin his job if so u are really STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    1. Dont call people stupid because that makes you sound stupid.
    2. He was on a ladder! How could he have possibly helped? At least this picture showed people what was happening and like it says: ” his work paved the way for Boston and other states to mandate tougher fire safety codes.” Which you would have found out if you had actually READ the description, John.

    In my own opinion, I think this is a good but sad photo. It shows real life, no matter how tragic.

  3. Just more sensationalism in reporting news. The tragedy following tis photo is something that we all need to think about and I am glad everyone sees that this photo is about life and death, rather than trying to dramatize this event in newspapers.

  4. Yes, thank you, jw. And Matt is exactly right — trying to catch a falling human will only result in your own death. It’s basic physics. I’ll also add that emergency personnel do *not* allow people to wander around within a scene. It interferes with the rescue and endangers other lives. I bet the photographer was positioned across the street.

  5. For people to get a better understanding of what happened that day, I suggest reading “The Boston Photographs” By Nora Ephron, and thank you jw for having an actual argument other than “Drop the camera pal”

  6. Jesus people! Grow up and smarten up! A woman and child fall to their death in a tragic accident. Firefighters and even a radio traffic reporter (who landed his helicopter on the roof of the building) attempted to save them before the collapse of the fire escape. And meanwhile Stanley Forman doing the job that he did very well in the 70′s (and still does today with a television camera). There was not a single thing he could have done to save them. Something like this happens in a split second and only those that have been witness to tragedy can understand how quickly things can go wrong. Those who second guess a situation like this are watching WAY too much television and are living a fantasy life. It’s not the messenger’s fault the woman died. The fact is that Stanley Forman’s photographs of this incident probably single handedly changed many fire codes in Boston saving numerous lives.

  7. John, you’ve got to be kidding me. Are you in elementary school? You come in here calling people stupid and “DUM” and think that shouting is going to win you some respect. You obviously did not read all of the comments before yours giving information about the situation and the photographer’s role…and if you DID read all of the comments before making your posts, then perhaps your labels apply more aptly to yourself.

  8. Go diana…john and caitlin can get over it…its not like he went hoping to get a picture of two people plunging to there deaths. jeeze

  9. Read the story behind the photo. Mr. Forman did not intend to take this picture. He was taking photographs of what he thought was going to be firemen saving the woman and her Godchild. Suddenly, the situation worsened and the fire escape fell. Plunging the two to the ground.

    Mr. Forman was not on the ground and could not have leaned over far enough or fast enough to save either of them. He just happened to be taking pictures and caught the fall.

  10. Caitilin you are one stupid person for saying that. try to have some RESPECT that may not be his job but that is a job for anyperson to do it is called doing the right thing just lik some one said drop the camera pal. yes he should have droped the camera and tryed to help. i bet he was there before all the emergency personal were even there. So he could have helped but he stood there like the stupid preson that he is a took a picture like a peosone would do if they had no heart. But the guy who was just doing his job let one poeson die and left one person to get hurt. so now do you t hink think that he was doin his job if so u are really STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. anonymous says:
    “Why take a photo of somthing like that?”

    Because he was and is a social documentary photographer, not a rescuer. As a photographer, you have to put ethics aside and record the real story, just like journalists should do. It’s not about if he caught them, or tried to help or not..That’s not his job. His job is to take pictures of real life, as it’s happening.

  12. “How is this a world famous photo? America centric site”

    It’s not a world-famous photo. It’s one of the “world’s famous photos,” just as the title of the page indicates.

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  14. Interesting to note how much better (read safer) the child is falling than the mother. Perhaps we lose some our tendency to loose our limbs as we get older. I’ve read of drunk surviving falls that would have killed a sober person.

  15. If you read the entire story, you’d realize that they were about to be rescued by a firefighter when unfortunately the fire escape gave way. This man thought he was taking a picture of their rescue…and he certainly couldn’t have done anything more for them.

  16. “Great picture… sad thing is what kind of a man is taking pictures when someone is falling out of a building? Drop the camera pal. Yeah you caught the action, and you won a prize! Next time try to catch the human being and win some respect.”

    Agreed.

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  18. While this is the most iconic of the bunch, this is only one of a series of shots that Forman took – IIRC it is about 8th or a series of 10 pictures starting with the fireman trying to reach them and ending with the pair striking the ground.

  19. Great picture… sad thing is what kind of a man is taking pictures when someone is falling out of a building? Drop the camera pal. Yeah you caught the action, and you won a prize! Next time try to catch the human being and win some respect.

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  22. sorry about mister O’Neal :| my mistake.

    He was the fireman who climbed to save the woman and the girl.

    I apologize again for the discontinuity of the story.

  23. Pingback: Matt Castille » Blog Archive » world’s famous photos » Famous Photos » Photograph of » Fire on Marlborough Street [1975]

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  25. you know a story’s been dugg when you get jackasses making jokes about a picture of somebody falling to their death :/

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  27. O’Neil was, indeed, the fireman on the ladder out of picture. Years after this event, which I remember well, it was revealed that the ladder had nudged the fire escape causing it to collapse.

  28. PhotographER Stanley J. Forman. Also, O’Neil who? There is nothing mentioned about who he is before his name is referenced. I assume he was a firefighter. Imagine the guilt of just missing them.

  29. “Despite a heroic effort, O’Neil knew he had been just seconds away from saving the lives of both.”

    I love discontinuity in stories. Who the hell is O’Neil?

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