Friday, October 8, 2010

The Great Chicago Fire

On this day, 129 years ago, Chicago's landscape was drastically changed.

That Sunday evening, a fire began on DeKoven Street, between Clinton and Jefferson Streets. It is now the sight of the Chicago Fire Academy, where potential firefighters train for the battles they fight to prevent a tragedy such as that which occurred the evening of October 8, 1871.

The Great Chicago Fire decimated nearly four square miles of South Loop, through Downtown, and on north to Lincoln Park. It is estimated that 200-300 died as a result.

Wabash and Washington, after the Great Fire

Dearborn and Monroe, after the Great Fire

Today, there are many residents of Chicago who know nothing of the Great Chicago Fire--an important point in the history of this city, which immediately began rebuilding itself. They come from far and wide, legally and illegally, to make their fortune in what was once touted as "the City of Big Shoulders" . They care nothing about its history--only what Chicago can give them for free.

When I first moved here in 1999, I drove from Downers Grove--about 30 miles--on Ogden Avenue, which took me to Chicago Avenue, less than a mile from my final destination.

I saw then, and I continue to see, areas that could and should be 'fired', laid to waste--because those who have migrated here do not care about their surroundings and do not understand the history of Chicago.

To me, Chicago is a city of lost souls--and believe me, it is really easy to 'lose your soul' here. Many have done just that, including our current President, and our out-going Mayor, and our new wannabe mayoral candidate.

Occasionally, I reflect upon those terrible two days in 1871; I have read of the great valor of some of Chicago's then-most-prominent citizens and their valiant actions to help their fellow men and women and children.

What would we do, here in today's Chicago, without our firefighting members of the Chicago Fire Department? These men and women work continuously to prevent another Great Chicago Fire.

They deserve our honor and respect.

Thank you--to all Chicago Firefighters!