Saturday, October 8, 2011

On October 8

On this day in ...
... 1871 (140 years ago today), on an autumn night that followed what had been a parched summer in Chicago, a city filled with wooden buildings, flames leaped in a barn. The Chicago Historical Society tells it this way:

[J]ust 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.

Fire rages in the city for 2 days, till a rainfall quenched the flames. It left a disaster:

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 Great Fire sparked a "spirit of recovery that flourished in its aftermath," and contributed, according to this account, and as presaged by the Chicago Tribune editorial above right, to the development of the skyscraper and other urban innovations. (image credit)

(Prior October 8 posts are here, here, here, and here.)

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