Chicago in ruins: The unimaginable aftermath of the Great Fire of 1871

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Image: Bettmann/CORBIS

On the night of Oct. 8, 1871, a fire erupted in the O’Leary family barn at 137 DeKoven Street in Chicago

The most famous and enduring explanation is that a cow kicked over a lamp while being milked by Mrs. O’Leary, but this story was a baseless rumor spread by local papers. It caught on with the public partly due to anti-Irish sentiment and the desire for a clear scapegoat for the destruction that followed.

Whether the fire was sparked by chance, accident or intent, it soon engulfed the barn and spread, aided by drought conditions and strong winds from the southwest.  Read more…

It was like a snowstorm, only the flakes were red instead of white.

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