Great Chicago Fire

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Drawing of the Great Chicago Fire from Harper's Weekly

The Great Chicago Fire was a large fire that occurred on Sunday October 8, 1871 in Chicago, Illinois. Actually it was not one fire, but nine, that combined.[1] It burned until Tuesday October 10, 1871 when rain began to fall.

The fire destroyed 3.3 square miles, and $192,000,000 in property. About 100,000 people were left homeless, and 300 people died. The cause of the fire is not known with certainty. A legend says that the fire began when a cow knocked over a lantern in Catherine O'Leary's barn on De Koven Street.[2] Because of a large fire the night before, firefighters were too tired to quickly put out these fires. [3]

The oldest structure left standing in the Chicago Fire zone is the Couch family tomb. This stone tomb has stood in place since it was built in 1858.[4]

One thing to remember is that not all of the city was destroyed. Important places like the Stock Yards, where animals were slaughtered, were untouched. So was the railroad system.[5]

The second red star of the Chicago flag represents the fire.[6]

Gallery[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Conzen, M. (2005). Progress of the Chicago Fire of 1871. Encyclopedia of Chicago. Retrieved from on May 26, 2014.
  2. Did the Cow Do It?
  3. Chicago fire of 1871. (2014). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from
  4. Couch Family Tomb
  5. The Ruined City. (2011). The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory. Chicago History Museum. Web. Retrieved on May 27, 2014.
  6. "Municipal Flag of Chicago". Chicago Public Library. 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-04.

Other websites[change | change source]