Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Great Chicago Fire (Infographic)

This week we have a guest post and infographic from Tate Handy of Digital Third Coast. He shares with us a piece he originally did for Chicago Line Cruises. It is the story of a pivotal moment in Chicago history, the Great Chicago Fire.


The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 devastated the city, killing 300 people, leaving 100,000 homeless, and causing an estimated $200 million in damages; however, without it, we might not have the distinguished architectural structures that our city is known for today.

Chicago in 1871 was a busy metropolis just starting to become one of the country’s leaders in population and industry, thanks to its trade-accessible location and available jobs in new industries and technologies. However, it still maintained a fairly small area, stretching from the south end of today’s Loop to just north of Lincoln Park, and from Lake Michigan to Halsted in the west.

The case of how the Great Chicago Fire was started has never been completely solved, but we do have these facts: it began on October 8th, 1871, in the midst of an abnormally dry fall, and it started on the southwest side of the city near the property of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary. Although the most well-known theory blames Mrs. O’Leary’s cow for kicking a lit lantern over in the barn, scholars have disproved that theory in favor of others, including a comet, a drunk neighbor, and a family friend.

While there’s never been a clear culprit, it’s easy to understand how the fire spread so quickly, thanks to the unfortunate combination of dry weather, a surplus of fuel, and Chicago’s famous wind pushing the fire further. In just a few hours the fire had reached Chicago’s central business district, and it raged from 21nd street in the south to Belden in the north until the early hours of October 10th.

The fire was finally quelled thanks to rain, the natural firebreak of Lake Michigan, and large empty areas on the north side that couldn’t fuel the fire. The catastrophic effects of the fire could be seen most in the downtown and northern parts of the city, as well as in the events the happened after the fire, when looters and anarchy took over the city, causing martial law to be declared for several weeks.

Despite the devastation the fire caused, Chicago was able to rebuild itself to again become one of the leading cities in the nation. The reconstruction caused an economic growth spurt that also helped increase the population, so much so that by 1893, Chicago was able to host the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Today, you can still see lingering effects of the Great Chicago Fire any time you walk downtown amidst the buildings that architects conceived of during reconstruction. These beautiful landmarks may not have been possible without the fire, and they’ll continue to remind Chicagoans of the tragedy for years to come.

Tate Handy
Outreach Manager
Digital Third Coast
Stereoscope Pictures of the Aftereffects 
(Photos Courtesy Of Boston Public Library/CC)



Playlist Additions

To download theses songs and albums from Amazon, CLICK HERE.

  • Big City Lost Dreams The Electric Prunes 2:46
  • Mrs. O'Leary's Cow Smile Brian Wilson 2:28
  • Fire Soca Dance Party Arrow 5:26
  • Fire Island Roots Vol. 2 Harold Kama, Jr. 3:54
  • Fire Bruce Springsteen: UNCUT CD 1 Link Wray 7:21
  • Fire We Got The Funk Ohio Players 3:13
  • Fireman George Strait 2:37
  • The World (Is Going Up In Flames) Daptone Gold Charles Bradley & Menahan Street Band 3:22
  • Fire Here It Is, The Music CDK Vol 1 The Jimi Hendrix Experience 3:18
  • Fire Stone Free: A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix Nigel Kennedy 4:41





Signing Off and Coming Attractions

Thanks again to Tate Handy for providing us with this weeks post. I am changing how I link to the songs I am featuring on this blog. I will always try to give you an iTunes link. Each post has it own Amazon page that features as many as possible download links. When the music comes from any other digital source, my pledge to you is try to find you a source for the music. Support the artists, and thanks to all of you for reading this far.

Next Week: Old Town San Diego is full of historical buildings. We will look at some them, before we return to our drive North up the old Highway 101.
Two Weeks: Our Trip up Interstate 95 through Florida has led us to the next ballpark in our series, West Palm Beach to Jacksonville: Spring Training
Three Weeks: The Christmas season will be underway by then. I have a Christmas story you may not  know came from Chicago,


Mileage Stats

Route 66: 0 Miles/1 State/700 Tracks/173 Videos/32 Posts

Highway 101: 22 Miles/2 Countries/1 State/518 Tracks/216 Videos/24 Posts

Interstate 95: 92 Miles/1 State/49 Tracks/87 Videos/10 Posts

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