Essential Architecture-  Chicago Loop South

Site of the Origin of the Chicago Fire of 1871


Sculptor: Egon Weiner


Dekoven and Jefferson Streets


Fire started on October 8, 1871; "Pillar of Fire" sculpture erected 1961


Sometime between 8:45 and 9:30, on the night of October 8, 1871, a fire started in a barn owned by Catherine and Patrick O'Leary on DeKoven Street, 1-1/2 miles southwest of the downtown. Fanned by a strong wind, in a city largely built of wood structures, the blaze raged for nearly 30 hours. Flames spread as far as the city's northern limits (near Fullerton Avenue) before finally dying out in the early morning rain of Tuesday, October 10. Much of the downtown and surrounding areas lay in ruins; 300 were dead and a third of the city's population of 300,000 was left homeless. Ironically and appropriately, Chicago's Fire Department Training Academy stands on the site.


With special thanks to the City of Chicago website, , for much of the info on this page.
Photos copyright City of Chicago.