1871: The Great Chicago Fire
Panoramic view looking east along Randolph Street toward the shell of the Court House and City Hall. The nearest cross street is Franklin, while the street at the extreme right corner is Market (now Wacker). Reconstruction is just beginning: a contractor’s shack is in the middle ground, and several larger temporary store structures are under construction. Special Collections & Preservation Division CCW 1.115.
At about 9 p.m. Sunday, October 8, 1871, a blaze began at 137 DeKoven Street on Chicago’s West Side. By midnight the fire had jumped the river’s south branch and less than two hours later the business district was in flames. Shortly thereafter, the fire raced northward across the main river.
During Monday the fire burned as far as Fullerton Avenue. Rainfall, which started about midnight, helped put out the last of the flames. By that time 300 Chicagoans were dead and 90,000 homeless, and the property loss was $200 million.