Great Chicago Fire
Overview
 
The Great Chicago Fire was a conflagration
Conflagration
A conflagration or a blaze is an uncontrolled burning that threatens human life, health, or property. A conflagration can be accidentally begun, naturally caused , or intentionally created . Arson can be accomplished for the purpose of sabotage or diversion, and also can be the consequence of...

 that burned from Sunday, October 8, to early Tuesday, October 10, 1871, killing hundreds and destroying about 4 square miles (10 km²) in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

. Though the fire was one of the largest U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 disasters of the 19th century, the rebuilding that began almost immediately spurred Chicago's development into one of the most populous and economically important American cities.

On the municipal flag of Chicago
Municipal Flag of Chicago
The municipal flag of Chicago consists of two blue horizontal stripes on a field of white, each stripe one-sixth the height of the full flag, and placed slightly less than one-sixth of the way from the top or bottom, respectively. Between the two blue stripes are four red, six-pointed stars...

, the second star commemorates the fire.
Encyclopedia
The Great Chicago Fire was a conflagration
Conflagration
A conflagration or a blaze is an uncontrolled burning that threatens human life, health, or property. A conflagration can be accidentally begun, naturally caused , or intentionally created . Arson can be accomplished for the purpose of sabotage or diversion, and also can be the consequence of...

 that burned from Sunday, October 8, to early Tuesday, October 10, 1871, killing hundreds and destroying about 4 square miles (10 km²) in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

. Though the fire was one of the largest U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 disasters of the 19th century, the rebuilding that began almost immediately spurred Chicago's development into one of the most populous and economically important American cities.

On the municipal flag of Chicago
Municipal Flag of Chicago
The municipal flag of Chicago consists of two blue horizontal stripes on a field of white, each stripe one-sixth the height of the full flag, and placed slightly less than one-sixth of the way from the top or bottom, respectively. Between the two blue stripes are four red, six-pointed stars...

, the second star commemorates the fire. The exact cause and origin of the fire remain uncertain.

Origin

The fire started at about 9 p.m. on Sunday, October 8, in or around a small barn that bordered the alley behind 137 DeKoven Street
DeKoven Street (Chicago)
DeKoven Street is a street in Chicago, Illinois named for John DeKoven, one of the founders of the Northern Trust Company.The Great Chicago Fire started at 137 DeKoven Street, now numbered 558 West DeKoven, in a barn belonging to Patrick and Catherine O'Leary...

. The traditional account of the origin of the fire is that it was started by a cow kicking over a lantern in the barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O'Leary
Catherine O'Leary
Catherine O'Leary was an Irish immigrant living in Chicago, Illinois in the 1870s. She was married to Patrick O'Leary...

. Michael Ahern, the Chicago Republican reporter who created the cow story, admitted in 1893 that he had made it up because he thought it would make colorful copy.

The fire's spread was aided by the city's overuse of wood for building, a drought prior to the fire, and strong winds from the southwest that carried flying embers toward the heart of the city. The city also made fatal errors by not reacting soon enough and citizens were apparently unconcerned when it began. The firefighters were also exhausted from fighting a fire that happened the day before.
The firefighters fought the fire through the entire day and became extremely exhausted. Eventually the fire jumped to a nearby neighborhood and began to devastate mansions, houses and apartments. Almost everything that crossed the fire's path was made of wood that had been dried out for quite a while. After two days of the city burning down it began to rain and doused the remaining fire. It is said that over 300 people died in the fire and over 100,000 were left homeless.

Spread of the blaze

The city's fire department did not receive the first alarm until 9:40 p.m., when a fire alarm was pulled at a pharmacy. The fire department was alerted when the fire was still small. When the blaze got bigger, the guard realized that there actually was a new fire and sent firefighters, but in the wrong direction.

Soon the fire had spread to neighboring frame houses and sheds. Superheated winds drove flaming brands northeastward.

When the fire engulfed a tall church west of the Chicago River
Chicago River
The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of that runs through the city of the same name, including its center . Though not especially long, the river is notable for being the reason why Chicago became an important location, as the link between the Great Lakes and...

, the flames crossed the south branch of the river. Helping the fire spread was firewood in the closely packed wooden buildings, ships lining the river, the city's elevated wood-plank sidewalks and roads, and the commercial lumber and coal yards along the river. The size of the blaze generated extremely strong winds and heat, which ignited rooftops far ahead of the actual flames.

The attempts to stop the fire were unsuccessful. The mayor had even called surrounding cities for help, but by that point the fire was simply too large to contain. When the fire destroyed the waterworks, just north of the Chicago River, the city's water supply was cut off, and the firefighters were forced to give up.

As the fire raged through the central business district, it destroyed hotels, department stores, Chicago's City Hall, the opera house and theaters, churches and printing plants. The fire continued spreading northward, driving fleeing residents across bridges on the Chicago River. There was mass panic as the blaze jumped the river's main stem and continued burning through homes and mansions on the city's north side. Residents fled into Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is an urban park in Chicago, which gave its name to the Lincoln Park, Chicago community area.Lincoln Park may also refer to:-Urban parks:*Lincoln Park , California*Lincoln Park, San Francisco, California...

 and to the shores of Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

, where thousands sought refuge from the flames.

Philip Sheridan
Philip Sheridan
Philip Henry Sheridan was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S...

, a noted Union
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 general
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, was present during the fire and coordinated military relief efforts. The mayor, to calm the panic, placed the city under martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

, and issued a proclamation placing Sheridan in charge. As there were no widespread disturbances, martial law was lifted within a few days. Although Sheridan's personal residence was spared, all of his professional and personal papers were destroyed.

The fire finally burned itself out, aided by diminishing winds and a light drizzle that began falling late on Monday night. From its origin at the O'Leary property, it had burned a path of nearly complete destruction of some 34 blocks to Fullerton Avenue on the north side.

After the fire

Once the fire had ended, the smoldering remains were still too hot for a survey of the damage to be completed for days. Eventually it was determined that the fire destroyed an area about four miles (6 km) long and averaging 3/4 mile (1 km) wide, encompassing more than 2000 acres (809.4 ha). Destroyed were more than 73 miles (117.5 km) of roads, 120 miles (193.1 km) of sidewalk, 2,000 lampposts, 17,500 buildings, and $222 million in property—about a third of the city's valuation. Of the 300,000 inhabitants, 90,000 were left homeless. Between two and three million books were destroyed from private library collections. The fire was said by The Chicago Daily Tribune to have been so fierce that it surpassed the damage done by Napoleon's siege of Moscow
Fire of Moscow (1812)
The 1812 Fire of Moscow broke out on September 14, 1812 in Moscow on the day when Russian troops and most residents abandoned the city and Napoleon's vanguard troops entered the city following the Battle of Borodino...

 in 1812. Remarkably, some buildings did survive the fire, such as the then-new Chicago Water Tower
Chicago Water Tower
The Chicago Water Tower is a contributing property in the Old Chicago Water Tower District landmark district. It is located at 806 North Michigan Avenue along the Magnificent Mile shopping district in the Near North Side community area of Chicago, Illinois...

, which remains today as an unofficial memorial to the fire's destructive power. It was one of just five public buildings and one ordinary bungalow spared by the flames within the disaster zone. The O'Leary home and Holy Family Church
Holy Family Catholic Church (Chicago, Illinois)
The Holy Family Catholic Church is the second oldest Roman Catholic church in Chicago, Illinois, USA, and is the city's original Jesuit Parish church. It is one of the few structures that survived the Chicago Fire.-External links:...

, the Roman Catholic congregation of the O'Leary family, were both saved by shifts in the wind direction that kept them outside the burnt district.

After the fire, 125 bodies were recovered. Final estimates of the fatalities ranged from 200–300, considered a small number for such a large fire. In later years, other disasters would claim many more lives: at least 605 died in the Iroquois Theater Fire
Iroquois Theater Fire
The Iroquois Theatre fire occurred on December 30, 1903, in Chicago, Illinois. It is the deadliest theater fire and the deadliest single-building fire in United States history...

 in 1903; and, in 1915, 835 died in the sinking of the Eastland
Eastland
The SS Eastland was a passenger ship based in Chicago and used for tours. On 24 July 1915 the ship rolled over while tied to a dock in the Chicago River...

 excursion boat in the Chicago River
Chicago River
The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of that runs through the city of the same name, including its center . Though not especially long, the river is notable for being the reason why Chicago became an important location, as the link between the Great Lakes and...

. Yet the Great Chicago Fire remains Chicago's most well-known disaster
Disaster
A disaster is a natural or man-made hazard that has come to fruition, resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change to the environment...

 for the magnitude of the destruction and the city's recovery and growth.

Almost immediately, reform began in the city's fire standards, spurred by the efforts of leading insurance executives and fire prevention reformers such as Arthur C. Ducat and others. Chicago emerged from the fire with one of the country's leading fire fighting forces.

Land speculators, such as Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard
Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard
Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard was an American fur trader, insurance underwriter and land speculator. Hubbard first arrived in Chicago on October 1, 1818 as a voyageur...

, and business owners quickly set about rebuilding the city. Donations of money, food, clothing and furnishings arrived quickly from across the nation. The first load of lumber for rebuilding was delivered the day the last burning building was extinguished. Only 22 years later, Chicago hosted more than 21 million visitors during the World's Columbian Exposition
World's Columbian Exposition
The World's Columbian Exposition was a World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. Chicago bested New York City; Washington, D.C.; and St...

. Another example of Chicago's rebirth from the Great Fire ashes is the now famed Palmer House
Palmer House
The Palmer House Hilton is a famous and historic hotel in downtown Chicago.-History:There have been three Palmer House Hotels at the corner of State and Monroe Streets in Chicago....

 hotel. The original building burned to the ground in the fire just 13 days after its grand opening. Without hesitating, Potter Palmer secured a loan and rebuilt the hotel in a lot across the street from the original, proclaiming it to be "The World's First Fireproof Building".

In 1956, the remaining structures on the original O'Leary property were torn down for construction of the Chicago Fire Academy, a training facility for Chicago firefighters located at 558 W. DeKoven Street
DeKoven Street (Chicago)
DeKoven Street is a street in Chicago, Illinois named for John DeKoven, one of the founders of the Northern Trust Company.The Great Chicago Fire started at 137 DeKoven Street, now numbered 558 West DeKoven, in a barn belonging to Patrick and Catherine O'Leary...

. A bronze sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 of stylized flames entitled Pillar of Fire by sculptor Egon Weiner
Egon Weiner
Egon Weiner was a Chicago sculptor and longtime professor at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was known for a abstract bronze sculpture, , which can be found on the grounds of the Chicago Fire Academy on the where, legend has it, Mrs...

 was erected on the point of origin in 1961.

Questions about the fire

Catherine O'Leary seemed the perfect scapegoat
Scapegoat
Scapegoating is the practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment or blame. Scapegoating may be conducted by individuals against individuals , individuals against groups , groups against individuals , and groups against groups Scapegoating is the practice of singling out any...

: she was an immigrant and Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, a combination which did not fare well in the political climate of the time in Chicago. This story was circulating in Chicago even before the flames had died out, and it was noted in the Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

s first post-fire issue. Michael Ahern, the reporter who came up with the story, retracted the "cow-and-lantern" story in 1893, admitting it was fabricated.

More recently, amateur historian Richard Bales has come to believe the fire started when Daniel "Pegleg" Sullivan, who first reported the fire, ignited hay in the barn while trying to steal milk. However, evidence recently reported in the Chicago Tribune by Anthony DeBartolo suggests Louis M. Cohn
Louis M. Cohn
Louis M. Cohn was a Chicago importer who claimed to have been in Mrs. O'Leary's barn the night the Great Chicago Fire started there in 1871....

 may have started the fire during a craps game. Cohn may also have admitted to starting the fire in a lost will.

Dennis Regan was a resident of Chicago and a neighbor of the O'Learys. It is believed that he was an accomplice of Sullivan in the start of the Great Chicago Fire.

Regan lived at 112 De Koven Street. As a witness of the fire, Regan testified that he heard someone outside yell that the O'Leary barn was on fire. Regan claimed that he attempted to warn the O'Learys and put out the fire.

There are several holes in Regan's story, the biggest one is that he could not have known of the fire before the O'Learys. With this knowledge, some have assumed that Regan assisted Sullivan, the real culprit, in his attempt to protect the farm animals and extinguish the fire. Afterwards, it is believed, Sullivan and Regan tried to cover up their involvement.

An alternative theory, first suggested in 1882, is that the Great Chicago Fire was caused by a meteor shower
Meteor shower
A meteor shower is a celestial event in which a number of meteors are observed to radiate from one point in the night sky. These meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories. Most meteors are smaller...

. At a 2004 conference of the Aerospace Corporation and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, engineer and physicist Robert Wood suggested that the fire began when Biela's Comet broke up over the Midwest and rained down below. That four large fires took place, all on the same day, all on the shores of Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

 (see Related Events), suggests a common root cause. Eyewitnesses reported sighting spontaneous ignitions, lack of smoke, "balls of fire" falling from the sky, and blue flames. According to Wood, these accounts suggest that the fires were caused by the methane
Methane
Methane is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . It is the simplest alkane, the principal component of natural gas, and probably the most abundant organic compound on earth. The relative abundance of methane makes it an attractive fuel...

 that is commonly found in comets.

However, since meteorite
Meteorite
A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. Meteorites can be big or small. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids...

s are not known to start or spread fires and are cool to the touch after reaching the ground, this theory has not found favor in the scientific community. There are mundane explanations for various aspects of the behaviors of the Chicago and Peshtigo fires sometimes attributed to extraterrestrial intervention. A common cause for the fires in the Midwest can be found in the fact that the area had suffered through a tinder-dry summer, so that winds from the front that moved in that evening were capable of generating rapidly expanding blazes from available ignition sources, which were plentiful in the region. Methane-air mixtures become flammable only when the methane concentration exceeds 5%, at which point the mixtures also become explosive. Methane gas is lighter than air and thus does not accumulate near the ground; any localized pockets of methane in the open air would rapidly dissipate. Moreover, if a fragment of an icy comet were to strike the Earth, the most likely outcome, due to the low tensile strength
Tensile strength
Ultimate tensile strength , often shortened to tensile strength or ultimate strength, is the maximum stress that a material can withstand while being stretched or pulled before necking, which is when the specimen's cross-section starts to significantly contract...

 of such bodies, would be for it to disintegrate in the upper atmosphere, leading to an air burst
Air burst
An air burst is the detonation of an explosive device such as an anti-personnel artillery shell or a nuclear weapon in the air instead of on contact with the ground or target or a delayed armor piercing explosion....

 explosion analogous to that of the Tunguska event
Tunguska event
The Tunguska event, or Tunguska blast or Tunguska explosion, was an enormously powerful explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, at about 7:14 a.m...

.

Surviving structures

  • St. Michael's Church, Old Town
    St. Michael's Church, Old Town, Chicago
    St. Michael's Church in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago is a Roman Catholic church staffed by the Redemptorist order of priests. The parish was founded to minister to German Catholic immigrants in 1852 with its first wooden church completed that year at a cost of $750 . The building stands at...

  • Chicago Water Tower
    Chicago Water Tower
    The Chicago Water Tower is a contributing property in the Old Chicago Water Tower District landmark district. It is located at 806 North Michigan Avenue along the Magnificent Mile shopping district in the Near North Side community area of Chicago, Illinois...

  • Chicago Avenue Pumping Station
    Chicago Avenue Pumping Station
    The Chicago Avenue Pumping Station is an historic district contributing property in the Old Chicago Water Tower District landmark district. It is located on Michigan Avenue along the Magnificent Mile shopping district in the Near North Side community area of Chicago, Illinois...


Related events

On that hot, dry and windy autumn day, three other major fires occurred along the shores of Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

 at the same time as the Great Chicago Fire. Some 250 miles (402.3 km) to the north, the massive Peshtigo Fire
Peshtigo Fire
The October 8, 1871 Peshtigo Fire in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, is the conflagration that caused the most deaths by fire in United States history, killing as many as 1,500. Occurring on the same day as the more infamous Great Chicago Fire, the Peshtigo Fire is mostly forgotten...

 consumed the town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin
Peshtigo, Wisconsin
Peshtigo is a city in Marinette County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 3,357 at the 2000 census. The city is located within the Town of Peshtigo. It is part of the Marinette, WI–MI Micropolitan Statistical Area...

 along with a dozen other villages. It killed 1,200 to 2,500 people and charred approximately 1.5 million acres (6,000 km²). The Peshtigo Fire remains the deadliest in American history but the remoteness of the region meant it was little noticed at the time. Across the lake to the east, the town of Holland, Michigan
Holland, Michigan
Holland is a city in the western region of the Lower Peninsula of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is situated near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan on Lake Macatawa, which is fed by the Macatawa River ....

, and other nearby areas burned to the ground. Some 100 miles (160.9 km) to the north of Holland the lumbering community of Manistee, Michigan
Manistee, Michigan
Manistee is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 6,586. It is the county seat of Manistee County. The name "Manistee" is from an Ojibwe word first applied to the principal river of the county. The derivation is not certain, but it may be from...

, also went up in flames in what became known as The Great Michigan Fire
The Great Michigan Fire
The Great Michigan Fire was a series of simultaneous forest fires in 1871. They were possibly caused by the same winds that fanned the Great Chicago Fire; some believe lightning or even meteor showers may have started the fires. Several cities, towns and villages, including Holland, Manistee and...

. Farther east, along the shore of Lake Huron
Lake Huron
Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. Hydrologically, it comprises the larger portion of Lake Michigan-Huron. It is bounded on the east by the Canadian province of Ontario and on the west by the state of Michigan in the United States...

, the Port Huron Fire
Port Huron Fire of 1871
The Port Huron Fire of Sunday October 8, 1871 burned a number of cities including White Rock and Port Huron, and much of the countryside in the "Thumb" region of the U.S. state of Michigan...

 swept through Port Huron, Michigan
Port Huron, Michigan
Port Huron is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of St. Clair County. The population was 30,184 at the 2010 census. The city is adjacent to Port Huron Township but is administratively autonomous. It is joined by the Blue Water Bridge over the St. Clair River to Sarnia,...

 and much of Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

's "Thumb"
The Thumb
The Thumb is a region and a peninsula of Michigan, so named because the Lower Peninsula is shaped like a mitten; thus the Thumb is the area that looks like the thumb of the mitten. The Thumb is generally considered to be in the Mid-Michigan area of the state, located east of Flint/Tri-Cities...

. Also on October 9, 1871 a fire swept through the city of Urbana, Illinois
Urbana, Illinois
Urbana is the county seat of Champaign County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 41,250. Urbana is the tenth-most populous city in Illinois outside of the Chicago metropolitan area....

, 140 miles (225.3 km) south of Chicago, destroying portions of its downtown area. Windsor, Ontario
Windsor, Ontario
Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Southwestern Ontario at the western end of the heavily populated Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. It is within Essex County, Ontario, although administratively separated from the county government. Separated by the Detroit River, Windsor...

 likewise burned on October 12.

The city of Singapore, Michigan
Singapore, Michigan
Singapore, perhaps Michigan's most famous ghost town, is one of the casualties of the four great fires that ravaged the northern midwest on October 8, 1871...

 provided a large portion of the lumber to rebuild Chicago. As a result the town of Singapore was so heavily deforested that the area turned into barren sand dunes and the town had to be abandoned.

In popular culture

  • The Chicago Fire, a Major League Soccer
    Major League Soccer
    Major League Soccer is a professional soccer league based in the United States and sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation . The league is composed of 19 teams — 16 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada...

     team, was founded on October 8, 1997, the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire. Earlier, another Chicago Fire team had played in the short-lived World Football League
    World Football League
    The World Football League was a short-lived gridiron football league that played in 1974 and part of 1975. Although the league's proclaimed ambition was to bring American football onto a worldwide stage, the farthest the WFL reached was placing a team – the Hawaiians – in Honolulu, Hawaii. The...

     for one year under the same name, and yet another Chicago Fire played in the American Football Association.

  • The University of Illinois at Chicago
    University of Illinois at Chicago
    The University of Illinois at Chicago, or UIC, is a state-funded public research university located in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Its campus is in the Near West Side community area, near the Chicago Loop...

     athletic teams are nicknamed the Flames
    UIC Flames
    The UIC Flames are the intercollegiate athletic teams of the University of Illinois at Chicago. They are called the Flames as a reference to the Great Chicago Fire, and their team colors are navy blue and fire engine red. Approximately 300 student athletes compete in 18 varsity sports...

    , in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire. The site of the O'Leary barn is within three blocks of the campus' edge.

  • Although set in Philadelphia, Theodore Dreiser
    Theodore Dreiser
    Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser was an American novelist and journalist of the naturalist school. His novels often featured main characters who succeeded at their objectives despite a lack of a firm moral code, and literary situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of...

    's 1912 novel The Financier
    The Financier
    Published in 1912, The Financier, a novel by Theodore Dreiser, is the first volume of the Trilogy of Desire, which includes The Titan and The Stoic .-Plot summary:...

     relays the nationwide impact the 1871 Chicago fire had on the stock markets and the financial world.

  • The 1937 film
    Film
    A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

     In Old Chicago
    In Old Chicago
    In Old Chicago is a 1937 American drama film directed by Henry King. The screenplay by Sonya Levien and Lamar Trotti was based on the Niven Busch story, "We the O'Learys." The film is a fictionalized account about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and stars Alice Brady as Mrs. O'Leary, the owner of...

    , is centered on the fire. It stars Tyrone Power
    Tyrone Power
    Tyrone Edmund Power, Jr. , usually credited as Tyrone Power and known sometimes as Ty Power, was an American film and stage actor who appeared in dozens of films from the 1930s to the 1950s, often in swashbuckler roles or romantic leads such as in The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan,...

    , Alice Faye
    Alice Faye
    Alice Faye was an American actress and singer, called by The New York Times "one of the few movie stars to walk away from stardom at the peak of her career." She is remembered first for her stardom at 20th Century Fox and, later, as the radio comedy partner of her husband, bandleader and comedian...

    , and Don Ameche
    Don Ameche
    Don Ameche was an Academy Award winning American actor with a career spanning almost sixty years.-Personal life:...

    .

  • The uncompleted Beach Boys album Smile
    Smile
    A smile is a facial expression formed by flexing the muscles near both ends of the mouth. The smile can also be found around the eyes . Among humans, it is an expression denoting pleasure, joy, happiness, or amusement, but can also be an involuntary expression of anxiety, in which case it is known...

     (1966–67) included an instrumental track called "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow", which was originally conceived as the 'Fire' section of a proposed elemental suite. Group leader Brian Wilson
    Brian Wilson
    Brian Douglas Wilson is an American musician, best known as the leader and chief songwriter of the group The Beach Boys. Within the band, Wilson played bass and keyboards, also providing part-time lead vocals and, more often, backing vocals, harmonizing in falsetto with the group...

     produced the original basic track in late 1966 but reportedly abandoned the track after a fire broke out near the studio during the recording session. The track was eventually re-recorded for Wilson's solo 2004 remake of the album.

  • There is also a 1976 Irwin Allen
    Irwin Allen
    Irwin Allen was a television and film director and producer nicknamed "The Master of Disaster" for his work in the disaster film genre. He was also notable for creating a number of television series.- Biography :...

     film themed on the fire and a science fiction storyline called Time Travelers, starring Sam Groom
    Sam Groom
    Sam Groom is an actor most noted for his numerous roles on television. He portrayed the title role in the Canadian television series Dr. Simon Locke . Prior to that, he had played Dr. Russ Matthews in the daytime soap Another World...

     and Richard Basehart
    Richard Basehart
    John Richard Basehart was an American actor. He starred in the 1960s television science fiction drama Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, in the role of Admiral Harriman Nelson.-Career:...

    .

  • The 1987 Williams pinball machine Fire! was themed upon the Great Chicago Fire. Williams is a Chicago-based company.

  • In a 1998 episode of the TV series Early Edition
    Early Edition
    Early Edition is an American television series that aired on CBS from September 28, 1996 to May 27, 2000. Set in the city of Chicago, Illinois, it follows the adventures of a man who mysteriously receives each Chicago Sun-Times newspaper the day before it is actually published, and who uses this...

    , which aired on May 16, the lead character of Gary Hobson (played by actor Kyle Chandler
    Kyle Chandler
    Kyle Martin Chandler is an American film and television actor best known for his roles in the television shows Early Edition as Gary Hobson, Deputy Jackson Lamb in the film Super 8, and as Coach Eric Taylor in Friday Night Lights, for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead...

    ) is knocked unconscious and awakens in 1871 Chicago, on the eve of the Great Chicago Fire.

  • In his 1922 autobiography My Life and Loves
    My Life and Loves
    My Life and Loves is the autobiography of the Ireland-born, naturalized-American writer and editor Frank Harris . As published privately by Harris between 1922 and 1927, and by Jack Kahane's Obelisk Press in 1931, the work consisted of four volumes, illustrated with many drawings and photographs of...

    , Frank Harris
    Frank Harris
    Frank Harris was a Irish-born, naturalized-American author, editor, journalist and publisher, who was friendly with many well-known figures of his day...

     dedicates a whole chapter (7) to the Great Chicago Fire. It is supposed to be an eyewitness account, but it is difficult to verify.

  • In 2008 screenwriter and Chicago native Jonathan Nolan
    Jonathan Nolan
    Jonathan "Jonah" Nolan is a British-American author and screenwriter. His short story "Memento Mori" was used by his brother, director Christopher Nolan, as the basis for the screenplay for the critically acclaimed film Memento. He has also co-written the screenplays for The Prestige and The Dark...

     announced he was writing a revenge story set in 1871 during the Great Chicago Fire for Warner Bros.
    Warner Bros.
    Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...


  • The fire was "re-enacted" regularly throughout the day as an attraction at the short lived (1960–1964) theme park Freedomland USA, near New York.

See also

  • Dwight L. Moody
    Dwight L. Moody
    Dwight Lyman Moody , also known as D.L. Moody, was an American evangelist and publisher who founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts , the Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers.-Early life:Dwight Moody was born in Northfield, Massachusetts to a large...

     – 19th century evangelist whose church was burnt down in the fire
  • Horatio Spafford
    Horatio Spafford
    Horatio Gates Spafford was a prominent American lawyer, best known for penning the Christian hymn It Is Well With My Soul, following a family tragedy in which four of his daughters died....

     – Author of hymn "It Is Well With My Soul
    It Is Well with My Soul
    It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,It is well, it is well, with my soul.Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,Let this blest assurance control,That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,And hath shed His own blood for my soul....

    " who lost almost everything he owned in the fire
  • Great Fire of London
    Great Fire of London
    The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London, from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666. The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall...

     – 1666
  • Great Fire of Pittsburgh
    Great Fire of Pittsburgh
    The Great Fire of Pittsburgh, which occurred on April 10 1845, destroyed a third of the city with damages estimated in the millions, perhaps tens of millions of dollars...

     - 1845
  • Great Toronto Fire – 1904
  • Bombardment of Brussels
    Bombardment of Brussels
    The bombardment of Brussels by French troops of King Louis XIV on August 13, 14 and 15, 1695 and the resulting fire were together the most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels. The Grand Place was destroyed, along with a third of the buildings in the city...

     – The bombardment in 1695 and the subsequent fire destroyed a third of the city
  • Chicago Flood
    Chicago Flood
    The Chicago Flood occurred on April 13, 1992, when the damaged wall of a utility tunnel beneath the Chicago River opened into a breach which flooded basements and underground facilities throughout the Chicago Loop with an estimated of water.-Cause:...

  • Fritz Anneke
    Fritz Anneke
    Friedrich 'Fritz' Anneke was a German socialist and newspaper editor, owner, and reporter. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1849 and became an officer in the Union army, and later an entrepreneur and journalist...

    , retired U.S. colonel and veteran Forty-Eighter, died in December 1872 after having fallen into one of the numerous construction pits with which Chicago was plastered after the fire.

Further reading

  • Chicago and the Great Conflagration – Elias Colbert and Everett Chamberlin, 1871, 528 pp.
  • "Who Caused the Great Chicago Fire? A Possible Deathbed Confession" – by Anthony DeBartolo, Chicago Tribune, October 8, 1997 and "Odds Improve That a Hot Game of Craps in Mrs. O'Leary's Barn Touched Off Chicago Fire" – by Anthony DeBartolo, Chicago Tribune, March 3, 1998
  • "History of the Great Fires in Chicago and the West". – Rev. Edgar J. Goodspeed
    Edgar J. Goodspeed
    Edgar Johnson Goodspeed was an American liberal theologian and scholar of Greek and the New Testament. He taught for many years at the University of Chicago, whose collection of New Testament manuscripts he enriched by his searches...

    , D.D.
    Doctor of Divinity
    Doctor of Divinity is an advanced academic degree in divinity. Historically, it identified one who had been licensed by a university to teach Christian theology or related religious subjects....

    , 677 pp.
  • Morris, Roy, Jr., Sheridan: The Life and Wars of General Phil Sheridan, Crown Publishing, 1992, ISBN 0-517-58070-5.
  • "People & Events: The Great Fire of 1871". The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Website. Retrieved September 3, 2004.
  • The Great Conflagration – James W. Sheahan and George P. Upton, 1871, 458 pp.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK