Masks required in Abakanowicz Research Center; optional for rest of Museum. MORE

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Designed for families to learn, explore, and discover the impact the Great Chicago Fire had on the city and the people who lived here.

October 7, 1871:

Chicago’s busy streets were taken over by flames for three days, overwhelming a city built of wood and causing severe destruction. After the fire died, recovery efforts exposed deep social and economic inequalities when more than 100,000 people became homeless, and society placed blame upon the Irish immigrant O’Leary family. The devastation also sparked change and regrowth in Chicago by introducing new fire safety guidelines and rebuilding as the resilient city known today.

One hundred and fifty years later, City on Fire: Chicago 1871  guides visitors through the crucial events and conditions before, during, and after the fire—many of which draw striking comparisons to today’s social climate. This family-friendly exhibition features more than 100 artifacts from the Chicago History Museum’s collection, interactive and multimedia elements, and personal stories from survivors of the fire.

City on Fire: Chicago 1871

Curators for this Exhibit

Julius – City on Fire Chicago 1871
Julius L. Jones

Julius is committed to using technology to tell new and inclusive stories about the past in compelling and innovative ways. Julius develops exhibition content, conducts research, seeks new acquisitions, and speaks on a variety of Chicago history topics.