1871: The Great Chicago Fire – Fire Codes
Innovation: The Great Chicago Fire – Fire Codes
Location: Chicago, Illinois
The Great Chicago Fire took place October 8-10,1871. The fire started at Mrs. Catherine O’Leary’s farm and spread to the city’s center because of the strong southwestern winds that blew embers long distances. The fire destroyed more than three square miles of the city, killed over three hundred people, and left 100,000 homeless. A summer drought and the wooden construction of the densely built buildings helped the fire grow out of control. Most of the northern side of Chicago was ruined along with the city’s roads, sidewalks, and lampposts.
The Great Rebuilding occurred soon after the fire. Since most railroad tracks had remained undamaged, aid reached the city from various parts of the United States. Unfortunately, the fire resulted in $200 million of damaged property, half of which was insured. The fire initiated many changes: strengthening of safety rules and the city’s fire department and laws that required new buildings to be made out of fireproof materials. Such materials include brick, stone, marble, terracotta, and limestone. The Palmer House hotel proclaimed itself to be the first fireproof building and Chicago became one of the country’s “most fireproof cities”. `