29. Residential Balcony

Location: Chicago, IL

Year of Fail: 2003

The deadliest porch collapse in U.S. history occurred in 2003, when an overloaded balcony fell during an apartment party, killing 13 and seriously injuring 57. A large number of errors in the construction of the wooden balcony, combined with 20-30 more people than the structure was designed to hold, caused the third floor porch to collapse and subsequently pull down the two balconies below. An investigation found that the property owner had knowingly broken several city codes by installing furnaces on the balconies and increasing the square footage of each beyond what’s permitted. In addition, inadequate supports, undersized wood and incorrect screws were used during construction.

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