The Great Chicago Fire and the Rise of a Modern City
On the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Chicago Architecture Center offers a series of programming highlighting the Fire's history and impact.
On the night of October 8, 1871, fire spread across Chicago. While the cause of the blaze is unknown, its origin was at 558 West DeKoven Street—an address that today is home to a Chicago Fire Department training facility.
An estimated 300 people died and 100,000 were left homeless by the three-day inferno that erased 2,100 acres of the city. The center of Chicago and the heart of the business district were wiped out. Yet, over the next 20 years, the city's population grew from 300,000 to 1 million people. 150 years after the fire, historians are still debating the impact of the Great Fire on Chicago’s development.
The Chicago Architecture Center is commemorating 150 years of resilience after the conflagration with a series of programs illuminating the myths and untold stories surrounding this pivotal moment of the city’s history. Public programs, family walking tours, a new bus tour and an Open House Chicago trail will dive into how the fire fundamentally changed Chicago’s built environment and the ways it impacted people’s lives.