Hot Time In Old Town Tonight The Story Of The Great Chicago Fire During The 1800's

1951 words - 8 pages

Hot Time in Old Town TonightA blanket of darkness surrounded the city after a day filled with people routinely bustling around. This slumbering city was rudely awakened when someone shouted "Fire!" Sheer mania enveloped this town as it struggled, to no avail, to extinguish a fire that raged with the vengeance of a roaring lion. Little did the people know what the inferno would do. This great fire can best be illustrated by describing the short time of prosperity, rapid destruction, and the slow rebuilding process of Chicago.Chicago was a flourishing city in the 1860's to 1870's until a catastrophic event changed it all. Chicago was growing quickly, and people divided Chicago into three sections, by the mighty Chicago River. The first section was the North Division. The North was very wealthy, and had more privileges than others. The poor people were worthless in their sight, and they the only reason they were in poverty was because they did not work hard enough. Their houses were mansions or large homes. The second section was the West Division. The West Division was middle class, but most of them were living in great poverty. The lots were middle size. The last section was the South Division. The homes of poverty were here. The people were all different races; few white English men lived there. Their housings were smaller than a regular lot, with little spacefor a house (Chicago Internet). Chicago was very diverse when it came to the North, West, and South Division.In 1871, Chicago was rapidly growing with ten railroads that went coast to coast, seventeen-grain elevators, eleven hundred factories, over three million head of livestock at the Union Stockyards. There were also commercial exchanges, where people buy, sell, and trade for a profit, such as the Board of Trade (Chicago Fire Internet). There were two major landmarks in Chicago. First, there was the courthouse. The courthouse, located in the middle of the South division's business district, along with City Hall, were most of the county offices, records, and Chicago's jail. The most important landmark in the North Division was the limestone Gothic Water Tower and Water works (Chicago Fire 278).In eighteen seventy-one Chicago's fire department was one of the best in the nation with a fire alarm system. In each neighborhood there was a firehouse with a watchman, who would signal the firehouse if there were any flames or smoke in the immediate neighborhood. Another watchman, watched the entire city from the courthouse cupola one hundred feet high. That watchman would signal the firehouse nearest to the fire, and ring the courthouse bell. At night, the Insurance Patrol, comprised of volunteer firemen who marched around the city, would turn on alarm boxes in stores to report big fires. They carried chemicals on their backs to extinguish small fires.Many factors caused the great fire to spread so rapidly. In the first place, from July to October in 1871, there was a drought taking place that...

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