A New York Times newsletter July 28 called attention to the 70th anniversary of an event that rang faint bells — yes, on Sept. 11, 2001, there were references to another time an airplane had hit a New York highrise. That crash had a high toll among employees of the National Catholic Welfare Council, the precursor to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Times linked to this History Channel post, about the 1945 crash of a B-25 Mitchell bomber into the Empire State Building. The Army bomber with three people aboard was flying low on a route from New Bedford, Massachusetts, to La Guardia Airport in New York. Heavy fog obscured the city’s taller structures and the plane swerved to avoid the Chrysler Building, but on a path that put it smack on course to the city’s tallest building, the Empire State.
The plane hit around the 79th floor, spreading flames through several other floors. Nevertheless, firefighters were able to limit the spread of the fire and quickly extinguish it. In addition to the three aboard the bomber, 11 employees of the NCWC, as it was known, were killed, nearly all of them women. Dozens more were injured.
This story from the Times archives goes into great detail about the crash and the victims. And this newsreel report from British Movietone and posted on FaceBook by The Associated Press tells the story as people would have heard about it in movie theaters of the time.
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