Description : A definitive chronicle of the 1871 Chicago Fire as remembered by those who experienced it—from the author of Chicago and the American Literary Imagination. Over three days in October, 1871, much of Chicago, Illinois, was destroyed by one of the most legendary urban fires in history. Incorporated as a city in 1837, Chicago had grown at a breathtaking pace in the intervening decades—and much of the hastily-built city was made of wood. Starting in Catherine and Patrick O’Leary’s barn, the Fire quickly grew out of control, twice jumping branches of the Chicago River on its relentless path through the city’s three divisions. While the death toll was miraculously low, nearly a third of Chicago residents were left homeless and more were instantly unemployed. This popular history of the Great Chicago Fire approaches the subject through the memories of those who experienced it. Chicago historian Carl Smith builds the story around memorable characters, both known to history and unknown, including the likes of General Philip Sheridan and Robert Todd Lincoln. Smith chronicles the city’s rapid growth and its place in America’s post-Civil War expansion. The dramatic story of the fire—revealing human nature in all its guises—became one of equally remarkable renewal, as Chicago quickly rose back up from the ashes thanks to local determination and the world’s generosity. As we approach the fire’s 150th anniversary, Carl Smith’s compelling narrative at last gives this epic event its full and proper place in our national chronicle.
Description : Describes the 1871 fire that destroyed much of Chicago, Illinois, examining its causes, the resulting devastation, and its aftermath.
Description : After a hot and very dry summer, Chicago was largely a wooden tinderbox awaiting a spark that would come on the Sunday night of October 8, 1871. What became known as "the Great Chicago Fire" was a massive firestorm that moved faster than most men could run, fueled by southwest winds of at least 30 miles per hour. The heat was so intense it melted stone and brick buildings in minutes and turned sand on the lakeshore into glass. A total of 18,000 buildings were destroyed. About 100,000 were left homeless, and over 300 lost their lives. The very same day, and nearly the same hour, both the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and Peshtigo, Wisconsin, suffered similar firestorms. Peshtigo's was even worse, creating an event that came to be known as "the Peshtigo Paradigm." Many people believe the three fires forming a huge triangle of destruction were related as one with cosmic causes, and it remains a mystery to this day.
Description : What really happened in Mrs. O'Leary's barn that autumn night in Chicago? Though no one knows for sure, what is certain is someone, or something, ignited a load of hay on fire, and the city of Chicago would never be the same. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 raged for more than 24 hours, obliterating the downtown and sparking a mass exodus to the prairies and lake. The flames grew so hot that they melted iron and marble, and the twisting winds tore the roofs off houses. The individual stories of courage and tragedy, recounted by survivors who fought for their lives, captivated a nation and elicited an outpouring of aid. The stricken city would rise again, but its tale of near extinction would remain one of America's most defining legends.
Description : Did the Great Chicago Fire really start after a cow kicked over a lantern in a barn? Find out the truth in this addition to the What Was? series. On Sunday, October 8, 1871, a fire started on the south side of Chicago. A long drought made the neighborhood go up in flames. And practically everything that could go wrong did. Firemen first went to the wrong location. Fierce winds helped the blaze jump the Chicago River twice. The Chicago Waterworks burned down, making it impossible to fight the fire. Finally after two days, Mother Nature took over, with rain smothering the flames. This overview of a stupendous disaster not only covers the fire but explores the whole history of fire fighting.
Description : A study of the great Chicago fire examines the disaster's impact on the birth of modernism--in art and architecture, culture, commerce, and urban design