As president of the Antislavery Society, Arthur Tappan, whose silk importing business was located in the fire district, was constantly beset by threats on his life. In the past, Tappan's business had been attacked on numerous occasions by supporters of slavery. Repeated attacks on his and other family members' homes and businesses continued throughout the summer of 1834. Because of the unceasing threats, Tappan was uninsurable by fire insurance companies in New York City. He was covered in the amount of $300,000 by a Boston firm. As the fire approached his business, Tappan & Co., several African Americans rushed to the store to try to protect it from the Great Fire. The stone building withstood the flames for nearly an hour but was eventually destroyed. Fortunately, Tappan and his helpers manged to save most of the store's goods. Nearly $100,000 worth was ultimately recovered.
Meanwhile, as the fire approached the offices of the New York American, editor Charles King rushed to the scene. He arrived to find workers moving equipment out of the building before the fire took hold. Once the roof caught on fire, however, the building was leveled within fifteen minutes. King surveyed the neighborhood destruction and was dismayed to find not one working fire hose or any other equipment to fight the ferocious blaze. Of the city's six morning newspapers, only two survived the fire intact. The Daily Advertiser, Journal of Commerce, and Gazette were completely destroyed, along with the evening paper, the New York American. The printing office of the Times was in ruins. Numerous periodical journals were destroyed as well.