Chicago's Great Fire
Acclaimed Chicago historian Carl Smith is remarkably the first person to write a popular history of this legendary urban inferno. Once it began in the barn of Catherine and Patrick O’Leary on October 8, 1871, the fire quickly grew out of control, twice jumping the Chicago River on its relentless path through the city’s three divisions. The conflagration raged for thirty hours, destroyed three square miles of downtown, and left 90,000 residents homeless and bereft.
Building the story around memorable characters known to history and unknown, including the likes of General Sheridan and Robert Todd Lincoln, Smith chronicles the city’s rapid growth and place in America’s post-Civil War expansion. The dramatic story of the fire—revealing human nature in all its guises—became one of equally remarkable renewal, as Chicago quickly rose back up from the ashes thanks to local determination and the world’s generosity and faith in Chicago’s future.
Get a signed copy of this book and join us for Carl Smith’s on-line lecture on Thursday, October 7th at 6 pm CDT: Link Here
Carl Smith is Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English and American Studies and Professor of History, Emeritus, at Northwestern University. His books include Chicago and the American Literary Imagination, 1880-1920; Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief: The Great Chicago Fire, the Haymarket Bomb, and the Model Town of Pullman; The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City; and City Water, City Life: Water and the Infrastructure of Ideas in Urbanizing Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago.