//
you're reading...
Daily History

October 8 1871 Great Chicago Fire begins


On October 8th 1871, flames sparked in the Chicago barn of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary, igniting a two-day blaze that killed between 200 and 300 people, destroyed 17,450 buildings, left 100,000 homeless and caused an estimated $200 million (in 1871 dollars; over $3 billion in 2012 dollars) in damages.

Legend has it that a cow kicked over a lantern in the O’Leary barn and started the fire, but other theories hold that humans or even a comet may have been responsible for the event that left four square miles of the Windy City, including its business district, in ruins.

Dry weather and an abundance of wooden buildings, streets and sidewalks made Chicago vulnerable to fire.

The city averaged two fires per day in 1870; there were 20 fires throughout Chicago the week before the Great Fire of 1871.

Despite the fire’s devastation, much of Chicago’s physical infrastructure, including its water, sewage and transportation systems, remained intact.

Reconstruction efforts began quickly and spurred great economic development and population growth, as architects laid the foundation for a modern city featuring the world’s first skyscrapers.

At the time of the fire, Chicago’s population was approximately 324,000; within nine years, there were 500,000 Chicagoans.

By 1893, the city was a major economic and transportation hub with an estimated population of 1.5 million.

That same year, Chicago was chosen to host the World’s Columbian Exposition, a major tourist attraction visited by 27.5 million people, or approximately half the U.S. population at the time.

In 1997, the Chicago City Council exonerated Mrs. O’Leary and her cow. She turned into a recluse after the fire, and died in 1895.

This Day In History

About Craig Hill

General Manager at Craig Hill Training Services * Get an Australian diploma by studying in your own country * Get an Australian diploma using your overseas study and work experience * Diplomas can be used for work or study in Australia and other countries. * For more information go to www.craighill.net

Discussion

2 thoughts on “October 8 1871 Great Chicago Fire begins

  1. Interesting back story on the fire – and that is a wonderful illustration of the blaze.

    Posted by Anne Bonney | October 8, 2012, 01:23
  2. Reblogged this on Red Asparagus.

    Posted by Susan Norden | October 9, 2012, 10:01

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

writer@craighill.net

Join 1,661 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

  • RT @AustDems: "The stench of corruption is once again hanging over the federal parliament, from the cash-for-visas scheme promoted by disgr… 2 hours ago
  • RT @AustDems: "No wonder his pleas before the Budget for more funding were not only ignored but greeted with a $16 million dollar cut." htt… 4 hours ago
  • RT @AustDems: "In a nutshell, Mr Hehir takes his statutory independence too seriously and has exposed unethical performance in the federal… 4 hours ago
  • RT @docbaty: This is a strong call from the @austdems for a national integrity commission. Take a read: democrats.org.au/national-anti-… 4 hours ago
  • RT @AustDems: "Members of parliament should not have conflicts of interest between their private interests and public duty or between decid… 4 hours ago

I also have a news site about China:

%d bloggers like this: