The coming anniversary of the tragedy which killed women on Pine Avenue Pier
From the moment it was built in 1905, severe storms with 15 to 20 foot waves pounded the Pine Avenue Pier and Sun Parlor, damaging the pilings and dislodging boards on the lower decks. Oil was often sprayed on the waves to lessen their impact on the pier but the structure was weakened and unsafe.
On May 24, 1913, thousands gathered on the pier and in the auditorium to celebrate British Empire Day in honor of the anniversary of Queen Victoria's birthday.
Crowds of mostly women and children lined up in front of the auditorium waiting for the all male parade to arrive from Pine Avenue. Suddenly the floor collapsed sending 350 women, children and men to the sand below.
The final toll was 36 crushed to death and 174 injured. Most of the victims were women.
The catastrophe was covered in every newspaper across the US and in England. The City of Long Beach was sued for approving faulty construction.
The story ran in the New York Times which reported:
The crowd massed about the Auditorium doors was largely composed of women and children, who were there before the parade ended in order to get seats inside the hall. When the section about the doors collapsed they went in with it, and a half dozen policemen, who had been vainly striving to held the throng in check, went with them. Only a comparatively small number of men were caught in the trap, because most of them were taking part in the parade. Many who were not standing on the section which collapsed were drawn or pushed into the vortex, and those who escaped crowded panic-stricken toward the outer rail of the pier. These fought for safety, and many were trampled under foot.
Those who fell into the hole last were able to climb over the entangled bodies to the broken ends of the floor.Fallen timbers and flooring were jammed into the struggling mass, and it was necessary to use ropes to pull back the jagged edges of the sunken flooring and broken joists before the dead and injured could be taken out. It was fully an hour before the yawning hole in the floor of the pier could be emptied of its mass of humanity, the dead separated from the injured and the dying extricated from among broken timbers.The dead and seriously injured were laid in rows on the beach, while scores who had sustained less serious injuries wandered about in a daze, seeking relatives and friends. Several of those who were taken to hospitals were not even scratched, but were suffering from nervous shock.The work of removing the bodies to Long Beach morgues did not begin until well into the afternoon. Long rows of saddened spectators,most of them still wearing the tiny Union Jack, emblematic of the day, watched in silence as the dead were taken from the temporary morgues to the undertakers' wagons.Although most of the victims were from Los Angeles and Long Beach, nearly every town in California was represented among the dead and injured.The Long Beach City Council held a secret session late to-day, and Mayor HATCH announced that the Municipal Government was assuming all expense, paying the funeral costs, and supplying funds for the relief of the injured.The auditorium, like the pier upon which it was built ten years ago, was owned by the city.