The Legacy of the Great Chicago Fire

The Legacy of the Great Chicago Fire

The Chicago Architecture Tours at Shoreline Sightseeing give locals and tourists a glimpse into the fable past of the Windy City. Perhaps the most famous event in this sprawling metropolis’ history is the Great Chicago Fire. Its devastating effects caused advances in fire science and permanently changed the way homes and businesses were built throughout the Midwest. Here’s a brief history of the Great Chicago Fire and some facts about a famous surviving historic structure you can see after one of Shoreline Sightseeing’s Chicago Architecture Boat Tours.

The Great Chicago Fire in Brief

Panorama of Chicago after the 1871 Fire

On October 8, 1871 at approximately 11:30 p.m., a small fire erupted in a barn behind 137 Dekoven Street. It would rapidly grow to consume over 3 square miles of the city, killing approximately 300 people, destroying 17,500 building, and leaving one-third of the city’s population homeless—roughly 100,000 people. The fire raged out of control until October 10, and the debris was so hot that it was days before crews could enter the affected area to start recovery efforts.

Due to an ongoing draught, wrong information delaying fire crews, and increasing winds that carried debris and created super heating conditions, there was almost nothing firefighters could do to stem the blaze. A few hours after the fire started, the city waterworks were consumed, causing the water mains to go dry. Thankfully, on the evening of October 9, rain began to fall and the flames were eventually extinguished.

A Must See Great Chicago Fire Site

Perhaps the most famous historic building to survey the Great Chicago Fire is the Chicago Water Tower. Located at 806 North Michigan Avenue, it is the second oldest water tower of its kind in the country. After the Great Fire, it became a symbol of Chicago’s spirit to survive and rebuild even after such a staggering catastrophe.

The restored Chicago Water Tower is now a popular tourist attraction in the Magnificent Mile shopping district. It’s situated on the same block as Water Tower Place, a majestic building known for its famous shopping mall.

Shoreline Sightseeing is Your Gateway to Chicago History

The best way to learn about Chicago’s history is to experience it up close with one of our many Chicago Architecture Tours. Our themed boat tours are a great way to spend the day, and after your excursion, you can see the sites and shop near the Chicago Water Tower. Review our tour schedule online and experience Chicago in a whole new way with Shoreline Sightseeing.