Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Great Chicago Fire

History tells us about many things which happened in the past - the near past as well as those which happened thousands and even millions of years ago. History also tells us about success, defeats, happy events, sad events, wars, inventions, discoveries and even more. Disasters which happened long back make us sad as well as help us learn something from it. So getting to know about the disasters of the past can help us prevent those happening again.

Here I am going to discuss about one such disaster - the Great Chicago Fire which devastated Chicago in 1871. The Great Chicago Fire, started burning on  October 8 and ended on  October 10, 1871. The fire killed an estimated 300 people and cost an estimated $200 million to repair. An estimated 100,000 people had lost their homes.

Chicago was one of the cities which had the fastest growing economies in the world at the time of the fire. The summer of 1871 was very dry. It had only rained a quarter of the usual rainfall.  On October 8 a small fire started on the west side of the Chicago river and strong winds helped the fire jump from one wooden house to another. In some areas, the river was so polluted, that the water caught fire! Mansions, ships, wagons and carriages caught fire and burned too. The fire fighters in Chicago at  the time tried to put it out but the water turned to steam when it got close to the fire. Chicago was doomed. After two days, heavy rain put the fire out. The fire had destroyed an area 4 mi. (6 km) long and 1 mi. (1.6 km) wide. 18,000 buildings were in ruins. The official death toll was 125 but many bodies had never been found. The fire created a space to start over. In rebuilding, Chicago became a world leader in steel architecture. 

What caused the fire? No one knows for sure but there are theories of how it could have started. I'll state two of the theories. The first one is that a fire started in a barn and spread through the city, and the second one was that  lumberjacks cut trees for houses and buildings and set fire to the parts that they didn't need and it spread through Chicago.

                     Facts About The Great Chicago Fire

1.On the same day, there were 3 other major fires in towns (Peshtigo, Michigan and Chicago) along Lake Michigan.

2.The Chicago riverside was badly hit because much of it was flammable like wooden warehouses, lumber yards and ship fuel.

3. After the fire, the world's first skyscraper was built in Chicago.

4.The word Chicago comes from the Native American word "shikaakwa", which means "wild onion."

1. Disasters:The Biggest Disasters In History From Salt in the Indus Valley to Hurricane Sandy by Kieron Connolly
2. I Survived:The Great Chicago Fire, 1871 by Lauren Tarshis


  1. Super Hani... am amazed how a 10 year old kid can learn and write stuffs like this... keep going kanna

  2. Awesome Hani.. Kudos to your thirst for knowledge