In 1897 a huge fire swept through the Melbourne city centre. Fire fighters were trying to fight it in a fierce storm, and it ended up engulfing one of the tallest buildings in Melbourne at the time (the Finks Building).
So what did Melbournites do? Go to help? No. Of course not. They went to gawp and caused a traffic jam.
Fifty thousand people travelled in to the city by trains and trams yester-day to witness the scene, Traffic in the neighborhood was blocked.
For comparison: in 1897, the population of the Melbourne city area (including Cartlon) was 68,528. The entire Melbourne metropolitan area had a population of 458,610.
As the day advanced news of the great disaster spread to the surrounding suburbs. Fragments of burnt cloth were blown as far afield as Camberwell, and, littering the gardens, aroused the curios- ity of early risers. Cyclists out for a morning spin sighted the ruins and carried the news far and wide, and the first church trains arriving in the city were packed with sightseers. All day long and until late at night crowds paraded the streets and gazed on the gaunt, smoking shells of buildings.
1897 ‘[BY TELEGRAPH.] Great Fire in Melbourne.’, Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), 22 November, p. 2 Edition: THIRD EDITION, viewed 17 September, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44201198
1937 ‘THE GREAT FIRE OF MELBOURNE: What Happened In Flinders Street Forty Years Ago To-morrow.’, The Argus(Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 20 November, p. 3 Supplement: The Argus Week-end Magazine, viewed 17 September, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11125890
THE GREAT FIRE OF MELBOURNE, NOV. 21st. 1897 FINK’S SKYSCRAPER BUILDING TOTALLY DESTROYED (1897) http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictures/gid/slv-pic-aaa37789
Finks Building, Melbourne, during the great fire (1897) http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/gid/slv-pic-aab66314
Finks Building, 276 Flinders St., cnr. Elizabeth and Flinders Streets, Melbourne (1901) http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/gid/slv-pic-aab68888
Scene of the Great Fire of Melbourne (1897), http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/gid/slv-pic-aab66476
The shell of Sargood’s Warehouse in Flinders St. after the great fire (1897), http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/gid/slv-pic-aab66302
1898 ‘VICTORIA.’, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 9 April, p. 9, viewed 17 September, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14133006