Eventually, the city determined that the fire destroyed an area about 4 miles (6 km) long and averaging 3⁄4 mile (1 km) wide, encompassing an area of more than 2,000 acres (809 ha). [7] These factors combined to turn a small barn fire into a conflagration. Chicago had a weakness for "big things", and liked to think that it was outbuilding New York. [1]:147 All along the river, however, were lumber yards, warehouses, and coal yards, and barges and numerous bridges across the river. A long period of hot, dry, windy conditions, and the wooden construction prevalent in the city led to the conflagration. Despite the fire’s devastation, much of Chicago’s physical infrastructure, including its transportation systems, remained intact. City officials never determined the exact cause of the blaze,[5] but the rapid spread of the fire due to a long drought in the prior summer, strong winds from the southwest, and the rapid destruction of the water pumping system explain the extensive damage of the mainly wooden city structures. The "Great … On October 24 the troops were relieved of their duties & the volunteers were mustered out of service. Or Louis M. There has been much speculation over the years on a single start to the fire. In 1893, Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition, a tourist attraction visited by some 27.5 million people. [35] Bales's account does not have consensus. Separated from their parents, Franny and John Patrick Fitzgerald flee amid panic-stricken crowds—and also witness flaring prejudice against the city’s Irish immigrants—as the fire destroys one neighborhood after another. Chicago in Flames -- The Rush for Lives Over Randolph Street Bridge [1]:146 An alarm sent from the area near the fire also failed to register at the courthouse where the fire watchmen were, while the firefighters were tired from having fought numerous small fires and one large fire in the week before. The fire burned wildly throughout the following day, finally coming under control on October 10, when rain gave a needed boost to firefighting efforts. The Great Chicago Fire was one of the worst disasters in U.S. history. [citation needed], In the days and weeks following the fire, monetary donations flowed into Chicago from around the country and abroad, along with donations of food, clothing, and other goods. 40,000) a town meeting raised £518 on the spot. [53] Windsor, Ontario, likewise burned on October 12. The month after the fire, Joseph Medill (1823-99) was elected mayor after promising to institute stricter building and fire codes, a pledge that may have helped him win the office. As a result, the area was so heavily deforested that the land deteriorated into barren sand dunes that buried the town, and the town had to be abandoned. [8] As overheated air rises, it comes into contact with cooler air and begins to spin creating a tornado-like effect. Individual Landmarks are organized into tours that are arranged geographically. A donation from the United Kingdom spurred the establishment of the Chicago Public Library, a free public library system, a contrast to the private, fee-for-membership libraries common before the fire. From there, the flames quickly spread across the city. 2. [citation needed], Finally, late into the evening of October 9, it started to rain, but the fire had already started to burn itself out. Chicago soon developed one of the country's leading fire-fighting forces. While there is little doubt that the fire started in a barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O'Leary, the exact cause of the fire remains a mystery. [1]:152 The fire had jumped the river a second time and was now raging across the city's north side. [38][39][40] Following his death in 1942, Cohn bequeathed $35,000 which was assigned by his executors to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. The fire leapt the south branch of the Chicago River and destroyed much of central Chicago and then leapt the main branch of the river, consuming the Near North Side. © 2020 A&E Television Networks, LLC. On Oct 11, 1871- General Philip H. Sheridan came quickly to the aid of the city and was placed in charge by a proclamation, given by mayor Roswell B. Mason: "The Preservation of the Good Order and Peace of the city is hereby intrusted to Lieut. Because, at the time, most of Chicago was made out of wood, the fire had every opportunity to spread and grow. The fire killed approximately 300 people, destroyed roughly 3.3 square miles (9 km ) of the city, and left more than 100,000 residents homeless. 120 bodies were recovered, but the death toll may have been as high as 300. Sheridan, U.S. The largest city of the American Midwest, Chicago, Illinois, was founded in 1830 and quickly grew to become, as Carl Sandburg’s 1916 poem put it, “Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.” Established as a water transit ...read more, On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burned, killing 145 workers. The Peshtigo Fire remains the deadliest in American history[49] but the remoteness of the region meant it was little noticed at the time, due to the fact that one of the first things that burned were the telegraph lines to Green Bay. (In America, only New York City had a larger population at the time.) The Great Chicago Fire was one of the worst disasters in U.S. history. The fire began in a neighborhood southwest of the city center. Yet onlookers crowded on its banks in Brooklyn that night, watching New York burn down. Almost from the moment the fire broke out, various theories about its cause began to circulate. By 1890, the city was a major economic and transportation hub with an estimated population of more than 1 million people. Held on October 4, 2014, the event fell victim to technical difficulties as replicas of 1871 houses on floating barges in the Chicago River failed to ignite properly due to electrical problems and heavy rain on the preceding days. Help flowed to the city from near and far after the fire. Based on a religious point of view, some said that Americans should return to a more old-fashioned way of life, and that the fire was caused by people ignoring traditional morality. With it, the city's water mains went dry and the city was helpless. This was the perfect mix of fact and story and it would be a great read for students. On October 9, 1871, a fire swept through the city of Urbana, Illinois, 140 miles (230 km) south of Chicago, destroying portions of its downtown area. It was estimated that around 300 people lost their lives because of the fire. The O'Leary family denied this, stating that they were in bed before the fire started, but stories of the cow began to spread across the city. The Great Chicago Fire left an estimated 300 people dead and 100,000 others homeless. In April 1872, the City Council passed the ordinance to establish the free Chicago Public Library, starting with the donation from the United Kingdom of more than 8,000 volumes. The Great Chicago Fire left an estimated 300 people dead and 100,000 others homeless. Focusing on the Great Chicago Fire we follow a brother and sister as they navigate the streets of Chicago trying to find their parents while also contending with the treachrous fire closing in on them and the city. [3] The fire began in a neighborhood southwest of the city center. [19] Public buildings were opened as places of refuge, and saloons closed at 9 in the evening for the week following the fire. [27]:127–130 Part of Bales's evidence includes an account by Sullivan, who claimed in an inquiry before the Fire Department of Chicago on November 25, 1871, that he saw the fire coming through the side of the barn and ran across DeKoven Street to free the animals from the barn, one of which included a cow owned by Sullivan's mother. "[11] Former Lieutenant-Governor William Bross, and part owner of the Tribune, later recollected his response to the arrival of Gen. Sheridan and his soldiers: "Never did deeper emotions of joy overcome me. When Mrs. O'Leary came out to the barn to chase the gamblers away at around 9:00, they knocked over a lantern in their flight, although Cohn states that he paused long enough to scoop up the money. Many people who were left homeless after the incident were never able to get their normal lives back since all their personal papers and belongings burned in the conflagration. [36] Despite this, the Chicago city council was convinced of Bales's argument and stated that the actions of Sullivan on that day should be scrutinized after the O'Leary family was exonerated in 1997. More than 17,000 structures were destroyed and damages were estimated at $200 million. ", "Chicago Tribune General Sheridan Civil War Chicago Fire Yellowstone", "The Chicago Fire of 1871 and the 'Great Rebuilding, "The Great Chicago Fire: What Part Did the Celebrated O'Leary Cow Play in Disaster? The bequest was given to the school on September 28, 1944,[39] and the dedication contained a claim by Cohn to have been present at the start of the fire.