Essay on chicago fire

Submitted By stephen11695
Words: 721
Pages: 3

The summer of 1871 was very dry, leaving the ground parched and the wooden city vulnerable. On Sunday evening, October 8, 1871, just after nine o'clock, a fire broke out in the barn behind the home of Patrick and Catherine O'Leary at 13 DeKoven Street. How the fire started is still unknown today, but an O'Leary cow often gets the credit. The firefighters, exhausted from fighting a large fire the day before, were first sent to the wrong neighborhood. When they finally arrived at the O'Leary's, they found the fire raging out of control. The blaze quickly spread east and north. Wooden houses, commercial and industrial buildings, and private mansions were all consumed in the blaze. After two days, rain began to fall. On the morning of October 10, 1871, the fire died out, leaving complete devastation in the heart of the city. At least 300 people were dead, 100,000 people were homeless, and $200 million worth of property was destroyed. The entire central business district of Chicago was leveled. The fire was one of the most spectacular events of the nineteenth century, and it is recognized as a major milestone in the city's history.
Below are some photographs of the damage caused by the fire and the stories behind the scenes of ruin. The first two photos were taken by Jex Bardwell, one of the many out-of-town photographers who, sensing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, hurried to the stricken city. The remaining photographs are the work of G.N. Barnard, a talented Civil War photographer. He opened a studio on Washington Street in the spring before the fire. Brothers John V. and Charles B. Farwell were two of the five partners in John V. Farwell & Company, the oldest dry goods firm in Chicago. Born in upstate New York and raised partly in downstate Illinois, they arrived separately in Chicago in the mid-1840s. In the course of their careers they became involved in every variety of social, cultural, political, patriotic, and religious, as well as economic, undertaking. Farwell Hall, the downtown headquarters of the Y.M.C.A., was named after John. Charles, who later became United States Senator from Illinois, was long active in Republican politics, and before the fire he successfully finished the stalled Washington Street tunnel project. The Farwell Building was located at 112-116 Wabash. After the fire the firm rebuilt several blocks west on the northwest corner of Monroe and Franklin Streets.
Trinity Episcopal Church was erected in 1860 on the south side of Jackson Street between Michigan and Wabash Avenues. Following its destruction in the fire, it moved out of the center of the city, locating in 1873 at Michigan Avenue and 23rd Street, which was at that time the richest residential area in Chicago. The large objects in the…