Talk:Great Chicago Fire

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The TV drama series Chicago Fire[edit]

Does this deserve a reference here? The name clearly directly comes from the football team, but the Great Fire is the ultimate link (both ahve been alluded to in the show's scripts)--MartinUK (talk) 20:35, 4 October 2015 (UTC)

old talk[edit]

Was one third of the city destroyed? how much of it was destroyed?

Is it just me or does this contradict itself? It says that the legend of O'Leary's farm isn't true, then says that it did start at O'Leary's farm. Huh? --Jodan

I think it's just you. It says that the fire at O'Leary's farm was started (in legend) by a cow, but (in reality) by the man who first reported it. -- Someone else 22:12, 7 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Then it goes on to say "The Great Chicago Fire did start in Kate O'Leary's barn around 9:00 p.m. on October 8, 1871." after that. Should it be clear that this is indeed a legend? --Jodan

The fire did start in Mrs. O'Learys barn. The legend is that a cow kicked over the lantern, and that's how the fire happened. -- Lena

I've heard a theory that the Chicago fire was caused by an asteroid impact, apparently this is not a quack theory but is supported by some evidence, such as areas of forest land being flattened in the surrounding area which is consistent with a large explosion. Has anyone else heard this theory? I'll see if I can find out more. G-Man 00:45, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)

There is a theory about this, which claims the meteorite landed in Lake Michigan. Some of the evidence is the near-simultaneous fires in Peshtigo, Wisconsin and Saugatuk, Michigan. The comet theory was first espoused in 1883 but was popularized by Robert Wood who believes it was caused by the breakup of Comet Biela. shsilver
The evidence supporting the comet theory is much stronger than this article suggests. For instance, many of the people and animals killed in the simultaneous Peshtigo fire died of neither burns nor smoke inhalation, but rather of asphyxiation; this is a very unusual type of death from fire but is consistent with the sublimation of a large amount of frozen methane or carbon dioxide. Eyewitnesses to the fires reported seeing "fire baloons" falling from the sky. There were a large number of simultaneous fires in and around Michigan, which formed a parabolic shape on the ground consistent with how comet debris would likely fall across the earth's surface; within the past few years a sizable (> 50lb) piece of carbonaceous chondrite meteorite was found on the ground at the apex of this region. Additionally, the periodic Comet Biela had broken apart in 1846 and, though its fragments returned several times, they were never seen again after 1866; recent calculations suggest that they passed close enough to Jupiter to have been further shattered and to be diverted so that the debris would have crossed earth's orbit at within a day or so of the time of the fires. One year after the fire, as the earth again passed through the debris, there was a spectacularly intense meteor storm.
The article sensibly says that causation by weather is the simplest explanation but does not mention that, while such weather is common, it has never produced another comparable spate of firestorms. It also does not mention that the winds in the area were negligible that day; a fire would be unable to so quickly engulf a large area (even one covered in dry foliage) without strong wind to spread the embers. For this phenomenon to happen simultaneously in several places in the same general vicinity is hard to explain by conventional means.

There was also a Great Wisconsin fire on that date destroying 1,500,000 acres see — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:09, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

Yes, The Great Peshtigo Fire was one of several fires the night of October 8th and the ensuing day. However, during the days before The Great Peshtigo Fire, several fires ravages both the areas around Peshtigo and great areas west and south-west of Peshtigo, e.g. in Minnesota and Iowa. The methane explosions may be caused by methane emissions from dried swamps. At Peshtigo, such methane emissions occurred several days before the great fire.

Pål Jensen (talk) 16:36, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Rebuilding after the fire[edit]

Many years ago I saw a documentary on architectural history that mentioned the rebuilding of Chicago after the fire: there had been a sum of money raised by the people of Glasgow, Scotland, to help the citizens of Chicago rebuild, and in memory of this there was a square built in Chicago that resembles George Square in Glasgow - does anyone know if this is actually true or was it just an urban myth?

Iroqouis Theatre Fire[edit]

The number of casualties given in this article is lower than in the article about the incident itself. CalJW 06:08, 8 October 2005 (UTC)

Buildings that survived[edit]

How many buildings survived the fire, i knwo that St. Michaels isn Old Town survived, and St. Ignatius School survived, these shoudl be noted here.. Someone want to make a list that shows what structures survived the blaze? also not what survived, but was never in the blaze.

I just finished researching a walking tour of Chicago's historic sites, and kept count of surviving buildings as they surfaced. Most of the so-called survivors in fact missed being in the burnt district by a fortuitous shift of the wind. But by my count, six buildings in the slightly more than three square miles of burnt district did survive.
One, the Lind Block, was an industrial building that was supposedly “fire-proof” that had the luck to be isolated, surrounded by vacant land, therefore protected from the full firestorm. It has since been pulled down and replaced.
One, the Nixon Building, was a stone building under construction—apparently because it had not yet had a roof put on or its interior finished with flammable materials, it came through mostly unscathed and was finished shortly afterwards. It has since been pulled down and replaced.
One was the Ogden Mansion (home of Chicago's first mayor), apparently saved from burning with its neighbors by a large yard providing some isolation and judicious application of soaked carpets. It has since been pulled down and replaced.
Two were filled with water—the Water Tank at LaSalle and Adams that afterwards became the city’s first library and has since been pulled down and replaced, and the Waterworks on Michigan Avenue that still survives today.
And one was an ordinary wooden bungalow owned by a Chicago firefighter named Bellinger, in the northwestern-most area burnt. The owner had a day’s notice of what was coming, and an expert’s knowledge of what would be needed. Assisted by his brother-in-law, he removed all the leaves around his home and tore up the nearby wooden sidewalk and fence. He remained there and snuffed any sparks as soon as they landed with tubs of water and soaked blankets he had put on his roof. It deservedly continues to survive in well-restored condition.
I am new to the Wiki community. How do I add this to the aritcle?
User:Janet Jaguar 05:03, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
You add to the article the same way you added to this talk page. Just click on the article and then click "Edit this page." Shsilver 11:54, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
Three comments about Janet Jaguar's list of structures that survived:
1) The first mayor of Chicago was William B. Ogden, but the Ogden House that survived the fire is that of Mahlon D. Ogden, not William B.
2) St. Ignatius school predates the fire, but is located 1/2 mile from the fire limit, and thus is not really a survivor. St. Ignatius is just one building from the 2/3 of the city unaffected by the fire. I have therefore removed it from the list of survivors in the article.
3) E.B. McCagg's greenhouse (though not his residence) also survived the fire. AT Andreas's History of Chicago, Vol. 2 (1885) on p 752 has a photo of it. It has since been torn down.
Icebox93 05:44, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
That section looks ridiculous right now. Am I to believe only three structures survived at all? lolz (talk) 03:32, 27 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that is what you are to believe. The city was built of wood, including sidewalks and streets back then. The fire was very hot. It burned the water pumping station, so the fire fighters quickly ran out of water to fight the fire. People ran from the fire, so they survived but their properties were lost. It created a huge area for the city to rebuild in steel and other fireproof materials, and skyscrapers had a place to grow. Rebuilding was rapid. --Prairieplant (talk) 10:18, 26 September 2018 (UTC)


Why are references to SF writer Patrick O'Leary being redirected here? I see mention of "O'Leary" but not a single "Patrick".

At one time there was an article on Patrick O'Leary, who was married to Catherine O'Leary, but someone deleted that article and made it redirect to this page.Shsilver 14:36, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

Origins of the Fire[edit]

Any serious researcher concerned with the likely start of the Chicago Fire needs to read Chicago Tribune reporter Anthony DeBartolo's 2 feature stories on the subject. There's good evidence that the fire started when a craps game, often held in the O'Leary barn, got out of hand. The stories concern a man named Louis M. Cohn who admitted to being there. You'll find DeBartolo's research here:

Just because DiBartolo has some evidence which has convinced you, doesn't mean it is definite and other versions of the origin should be included, along with caveats about them. You have claimed only Cohn has confessed, which is patently false (his confession, if it exists, is lost and Sullivan also confessed). Please stop blanking the information in this article. Shsilver 13:31, 25 December 2005 (UTC)

First of all, the reporter's name is spelled - DeBartolo. I know, I'm the reporter. If such carelessness is any indication of your research skills, your comments above begin to make some sense. Second of all, there is no credible record that Sullivan ever confessed anything. The only credible confession we have on record concerning the start of the Great Chicago Fire came from Louis M. Cohn -- this confession was documented when his $35,000 estate was given to Northwestern University after his death in 1942, and has been confirmed by Cohn's attorney, Stan Feinberg, in the late 1990s...Those are the facts as I know them - if you have others, please make them public...Lastly, I suggest you read Richard Bales' original research on Peg Leg Sullivan published in the Spring 1997 Illinois Historical Journal -- you'll discover Bales' basis for his theory -- Sullivan must have lied about where he was standing (Peg Leg said he saw the "fire" while standing across the street), because land records suggest a house would have blocked his clear view of the O'Leary barn. Given the gale force winds at the time(and other fire-prone conditions), it would have been perfectly possible for Sullivan to have seen flames shooting above the roof line, or out from the barn's side. At the least, smoke would surely have been visable, if not the glow of the flames. In brief, the only historian who takes Sullivan seriously as a suspect is Bales.

I'm aware you're the reporter and, in general, I respect your work. I'm sorry I misspelled your name and please note that Wikipedia does have a policy regarding personal attacks (I could just as easily claim that your misspelling of the word visible has some importance, which, of course, it doesn't). Furthermore, Wikipedia is not a place for either original research (which you provide in your articles which you've linked to multiple times in multiple places). If you look through the history of the page, you'll note that nowhere do I claim that Sullivan started the fire, merely that he is considered as a possible source. And yes, I have read Bales's work. Once you brought up Cohn, again, if you look at the history, you'll see that I incorporated that claim in with other possible culprits (Sullivan, the silly cow story) and even added a stub-article about Cohn to wikipedia. Wikipedia is also not a place for advocacy, your forthcoming book, newspaper or historical journal articles are the place for that. Finally, you can sign your posts on a talk page with four tildes.Shsilver 13:27, 27 December 2005 (UTC)

The only thing I've tried to advocate here, dear sir, is good reporting. Unfortunately, in order to do so, I've needed to pull down your misstatements of fact. On more than one occasion. For example, you've claimed “many” historians now think Sullivan might be the culprit -- this is simply not true. Bales is the only 'historian' who holds this position. If you know of others cite them or their work, please. You’ve also claimed there’s a deathbed confession by Sullivan. What’s your source here?

I’m new here at Wikipedia and I’m not too sure of your rules, but I assume you’re looking for fair and intelligent reporting. Unfortunately, I must say I’ve found it lacking.

What is true, however, is the fact I don’t spell too well without my morning coffee. [DeBartolo]

And your reason for continuously pulling down information about the Chicago City Council's activities, which did happen, even if you personally disagree with their conclusions? Similarly, you have a long history of removing all references to Sullivan's possible involvement, even though there is argument for it (despite your own views). Finally, since you refer to Mr. Bales as an amateur historian, I presume we should include the same appelation for you.Shsilver 16:51, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
NPOV and all that, is it a workable solution to cover both sides and cite sources? --Kizor 00:06, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

No, you can just call me a reporter...As for the city council "activities" - they passed a resolution on 10/28/97. Since you asked, I just pulled a copy from my file's the only line that mentions Peg Leg -- "WHEREAS, A neighbor, Daniel 'Peg Leg' Sullivan, was a man who some historians now suspect may have been the true culprit behind the fire; and..."

That's all they say about Peg Leg. You can't call it a conclusion. They're just citing Bale's research. The city carried out no "activites." They researched nothing. You reference the city council resolution like it actually means something...As for me removing your Sullivan copy early on - same story - when I first came across your work, you didn't simply suggest Sullivan was a possibility - rather, you presented him as the leading suspect...

*Smacks head* Apologies for re-adding the city council reference. Repeatedly. Lacking access to the resolution, I fact-checked from some secondary sources that apparently were faulty. Should've cited, now that I think about it... Incidentally, --~~~~ can be used to sign comments on talk pages like this one has been. There's a bit less reason without a registered username, but it at least lets others easily know who's speaking. --Kizor 00:06, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

Correct warning – but two fires?[edit]

I’ve seen several versions of the initial fire warning which implies that Mathias Schaffer, the watchman in the courthouse, sent the firefighters in a wrong direction. According to Gess & Lutz (Firestorm at Peshtigo, p. 114), “Mathias Schaffer looked through his spyglass to the flames on the west side of the city and immediately sent a message to the voice box…”Strike box 342”, etc. But now Schaffer was “…instantly confused. He had mislocated the fire about a mile or so. Either that – or this did not seem possible – the fire was coming from two directions at once…” Schaffer told Brown to strike box 319 instead, “but Brown did not do it, thinking it would confuse everyone more.” The distance between the courthouse and O¨Leary’s barn was about two miles, so a one mile deviation is relatively much. If Mathias Schaffer thought the fire was a mile west of O’Leary’s barn, it could barely be mistaken for the old Saturday Night Fire, which (seen from the courthouse) was in about the same direction as the barn. Therefore, Mathias Schaffer must have been misoriented. Or not? I don’t know whether or not Schaffer had a compass, a sextant, a street map and/or other equipment for computing the distance to and the direction of a fire. But I think the two warnings may have another cause than a mistake of Schaffer. If so, it’s time to exonerate Schaffer for erronous warning.

The events may have been like this:

  1. Schaeffer did see a flame a mile west of O’Learys barn – so he messaged, perfectly correct, Brown to strike Box 342. With his spyglass, he could see the smallest fire in the dark if it was not concealed by a building. Perhaps he was espcially aware for fires in the city’s southwestern section because of the high wind from southwest. Probably it was a small fire, e.g. some dry leaves which caught fire because of sparks from a pipe or a steam locomotive, or a chimney fire. Small, albeit potentially very dangerous in the tinder-dry city chock-full of combustibles, and in the windy and superheated air (October 8. was extremely warm[1]).
  2. Chimney fire or not; the small fire was immedieately put out with e.g. a bucket of water (which is very useful to put out a small fire), or it died by itself as most of chimney fires do. So when the firefighters – some exhausted men and horses after 16-17 hours fighting against the Saturday Night Fire – reached the area, they did not find any fire. Perhaps it was a short-lived chimney fire which wasn’t mentioned neither by the house owner nor by any others. In the meantime, Shaffer had discovered the fire in O’Learys barn and ordered Brown to strike the corresponding box, Box 319 – which he didn’t do.

According to Gess & Lutz, Chicago had 30 fires during the week before the disaster – i.e. more than four fires a day, and a new fire about each 6. hours at average. If this is correct, we should expect about four fires during the 22 or 23 hours from the Saturday Night Fire broke out till O’Leary’s barn cought fire. I don’t know the distribution of fires in Chicago during the week, but I think almost 24 hours without a new fire is unprobable – if not the Saturday Night Fire made the people extremely careful. I think this conclusion is true even if other sources are true in claiming “only” 20 fires the last week before the disaster.


  1. ^ Donald Haines & Rodney W Sando 1969: Climatic Conditions Preceding Historical Great Fires in the North Central Region. U.S.D.A. Forest Service Research Paper NC-34.

Pål Jensen (talk) 08:09, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Redirect Suggestion[edit]

How about setting a redirect page at Great Fire of Chicago? When I looked for the article originally, I typed that in and it came back with no results. 16:03, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Done. GilliamJF 18:31, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

The passage in the 10/6/2006 Chicago Tribune allegedly dictated from Anthony DeBartolo reads without bracketed words, as follows:

"At that time, Cohn's estate was handed over to Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, and the [Northwestern] [U]niversity press release obtained by Wykes included an interesting paragraph about the "origin" of the fire:

"[Louis M. Cohn] asserted that he and Mrs. O'Leary's son, in the company of several other boys, were shooting dice in the hayloft ... by the light of a lantern, when one of the boys accidently overturned the lantern, thus setting the barn afire. Mr. Cohn never denied that when the other boys fled, he stopped long enough to scoop up the money."


The article has a cute reference about Cohn grabbing the money from the crap session. Yet, the reference in this Discussion attributed to DeBartolo contradicts the 10/6/2006 Tribune article. The Chicago Tribune states the basis of DeBartolo's assumption is the Northwestern University Press Release and the physical appearance of Stanley Feinberg to questioning by DeBartolo. The discussion with the "son of the executor Stanley Fineberg" is DeBartolo's basis for speculation.

The DeBartolo assessment of the credibility and veracity of the son of the executor is a bit removed from the source, Louis M. Cohn. Feinberg is asked about the Cohn will, which he never drafted nor was a part. There is no admission as a matter of civil law, just third or fourth hand speculation. The hearsay and speculation on the part of theorist Anthony DeBartolo in the recent Tribune Article is quoted:

From 10/6/2006 Chicago Tribune Article:

"Still, DeBartolo tracked down a son of one of the will's executors in La Jolla, Calif. Stanley Feinberg confirmed that Cohn had told the story about the dice game. Feinberg told the Tribune in 1998 that Cohn never admitted to him that he knocked over the lantern.

"The only time I thought Feinberg wasn't telling me the truth was when I asked him about Cohn's will--he stopped looking me in the eye." DeBartolo said.""

FROM Lafew:

This suggests to me discomfort on the part of Stanley Feinberg. It is innappropriate to question a non-attorney about an attorney-client privilege. If Mr. Feinberg's father is an attorney, Mr. Feinberg could not tell his son much or face disbarment. The idea that Anthony DeBartolo may have had access to a will was presented to Feinberg. This had to be uncomfortable for someone who is simply the son of an executor, who was likely not told even by his father about what was stated. Furthermore, an executor is not often the attorney who drafted the will, nor even one with knowledge of the origin of each passage in a will.

Stanley Feinberg is the recipient of hearsay from Northwestern University, the news media at the time, and what his father had to say about someone else, even if false. What was allegedly disclosed from the will does not implicate Louis M. Cohn anymore than it implicates James O'Leary or anyone at the crap shoot.

The "executor's son," Stanley Feinberg, did not witness the fire or even any conceivable statement made to his father, the executor, not necessarily the attorney of record. There were allegedly individuals with both Catholic and Jewish surnames at the site of the dice game in the O'Leary Barn (if the account is true). If you are confronted with someone who has a Catholic surname, like DeBartolo, but Stanley Feinberg and Louis M. Cohn, the alleged witness have Jewish surnames, how do you react? Stanley Feinberg's bit of discomfort, is rational and eye movement may be awkward and less than direct in this sort of situation. Such action may have no bearing on credibility or veracity.

If the NU report of the Louis M. Cohn Will is to be believed, then a group of Catholic and Jewish kids went into a barn, played craps, may have been drinking, and caused a fire by accident, nothing more. Apparently, someone had either the guts or simply wanted headlines, take your pick. The alleged actors are deceased and some remain unknown; all allegations demonstrate an accident with catastrophic results.

What was the exact admission by someone twice or thrice removed from the event? Why should we believe that Northwestern University would not report the truth. NU could simply abstain from reporting anything in the Louis M. Cohn will, correct? The Chicago Tribune article does not present a DeBartolo conclusion, but a DeBartolo allusion to second hand hearsay.

Of course, now that the alleged executor Feinberg has passed away, where does DeBartolo go from here? Was Feinberg the executor or a relative of the executor? The use of the material presented in the Tribune article of 10/6/2006 needs to be verbatim unless DeBartolo has a true admission, not just a decision by an "executor" to look in a different direction.

The Wikipedia reference is sensationalistic and without a basis in fact. Louis M. Cohn is simply an alleged observer of a possible event that took place in the O'Leary Barn. There is no evidence to document Cohn's relationship, if any, with James O'Leary. There is no evidence that confirms that Cohn caused the fire, merely that he was among a group of gamblers that may have triggered the fire, if the Will is located and the relationship verifiable. The fact that the NU Press Release passage takes place during World War II is also interesting due to the anti-semitism of that era.

Spread of the blaze[edit]

These sentences seem a bit odd:

"The fire department was alerted when the fire was still small. When the blaze got bigger, the guard realized that there actually was a new fire and sent firefighters, but in the wrong direction."

This implies, but does not state, that firefighters were initially not sent. It also implies there were other fires at the same time, but that is not mentioned elsewhere in this article.

I don't know the actual facts, so I can't improve the wording. Benthatsme (talk) 17:27, 21 May 2009 (UTC)


A number of comments are obviously spam (tip: do a search for 'aids')

Which template does one use to flag the article as containing individual nonsense sentences while not condemning the article as a whole? I read the vandalism guide, but it only suggested reverting and warning the user. I have neither time nor interest to do this, and want to flag the article for others to take action only.

For lack of a clear instruction I included the test2 tag. It's probably not the appropriate one, but there you go for not providing immediately accessible guidelines for infrequent Wiki contributors like me...  ;-) 21:08, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

Fire code jurisdiction[edit]

From Humboldt Park, Chicago: Most of the neighborhood was annexed into the city in 1869, the year the park was laid out. The fact that this area stood just beyond the city's fire code jurisdiction as set out after the 1871 fire made inexpensively built housing possible.

Where exactly are the borders of this? Have they changed over the years? --Kalmia 05:06, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

The borders appear to have been set at 12th Street and Halsted Street after the 1871 fire (see this article); I have to guess that city limits formed the other two boundaries but haven't found any information on that in the ten minutes I've been searching.
That same article indicates that the fire limits were expanded in 1874 (after a second major fire) to cover the whole city. That may contradict the Humboldt Park article, but I'm not sure. In any case, the fire limits survive on as chapter 13-116 of the current Chicago Municipal Code: they cover "all zoning districts within the corporate limits classified B1-1 through B7-7 and C1-1 through C-4, as defined in the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of May 29, 1957, as amended, together with an additional 200 feet in all directions from the outer limits of each area or areas so classified." This appears to mean that most business and commercial districts in Chicago are governed by the fire limits regulations, but it's hard to tell. The 1957 zoning ordinance has been superseded and the City's online zoning map doesn't have the fire limits noted on it. --Morrand (talk) 04:44, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

Image Request[edit]

Can anyone find a larger sample of this image? It would really be neat to see the exact borders of the fire area, but this map is so small it's kinda hard to tell. DirectorStratton 20:56, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Map of Chicago from 1871. The shaded area was destroyed by the fire.

Jews and the Fire[edit]

I'm deleting this. The exact quote supporting this section is from Irving Cutler's book, The Jews of Chicago (1996), on p.28: "That night happened to be the Jewish holiday of Simchat torah, the festival of the rejoicing of the law, a celebration of merriment in which the congragants dance in their synagogues with the Torah scrolls. This is probably one of the reasons that some of the scrolls were saved from the fire." Cutler is a fine historian of the city, but the holiday explanation is plainly speculation on his part, and likely not the case. The main reason is that even in orthodox synagogues today, the Simchat Torah service will usually end before 10PM, as it does at the orthodox synagogue I attend. In 1871, most synagogues were not strictly orthodox, so they likely would have ended earlier. The fire started at about 9PM, so by the time the fire advanced to where the synagogues were, the services would have been over and the happy congregants home. The fire didn't get across the river until midnight. So a more probable reason why any torahs were saved is that the rabbi or another syngagoue official lived close enough to the synagogue to get in and grab the torahs before the fire destroyed the building. Many people tried to save physical property in the path of the fire, some successful, others not. There's no real need to highlight this, especially when there's no clear reference to contemporary testimony to support it. Icebox93 (talk) 22:03, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

St. Ignatius Prep[edit]

Please stop trying to add St. Ignatius College Preparatory School to the list of existing buildings that survived the fire. Yes, St. Ignatius predates the fire, but as noted above, it was not actually threatened by the fire. Kevin Forsyth (talk) 11:23, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Old St. Patrick's Church[edit]

Old St. Pat's, at the northwest corner of Adams and Des Plaines, was built before the fire, but was not threatened by it. Hence it should not be listed as a "survivor" of the fire. See [1] for a detailed map and chronology of the fire. Kevin Forsyth (talk) 05:06, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

In popular culture[edit]

I have removed the "In popular culture" section. As stated in the essay on pop culture sections:

"In popular culture" sections should be carefully maintained and contain sourced examples demonstrating a subject's cultural significance.
Passing references to the article subject are discouraged.
Not one of these examples is sourced. The most direct example, In Old Chicago, is redundant to a "See also" link below (and contradicts the date of the film). The rest are, at best, passing references or minor examples of fictional alternate histories. While the fire has great historical significance (particularly for Chicagoans), its relatively minor cultural impact is already covered elsewhere in the article (e.g. the star on the municipal flag, the sculpture at DeKoven Street). Kevin Forsyth (talk) 16:58, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
I deleted some items from In popular culture, added a reference for one, and marked many with citation needed. All those television episodes need a citation, otherwise they are simply original research. If no sources can be found to support those items, they should be deleted. --Prairieplant (talk) 10:29, 26 September 2018 (UTC)

Statement of Catherine O'Leary[edit]

Reading Eagle, Saturday, Dec 26, 1936, pg 5, Last of Chicago’s O’Leary Family Dies, Chicago, Dec. 26 (AP)--- Mrs. Catherine O’Leary Ledwell, 70, last member of the O’Leary family, whose cow some say started the Chicago fire, died of heart disease last night at her home. Mrs. Ledwell always denied the legend that the O’Leary cow kicked over a lamp in their barn and touched off the great blaze of 1871. She declared they first learned of the fire at 8 o’clock (2000 hrs) when Denis Sullivan, the one-legged draymen from next door,” discovered it in the barn. “That’s the first we knew of the fire.” She always said. “No one had been up. I know mother didn’t milk the cow after 5 o’clock.” (1700 hrs) Mrs. Ledwell theorized that young bloods of the neighborhood who sometimes drank beer in the loft of the O’Leary barn had left a cigar butt smouldering in the hay. — Preceding unsigned comment added by RogerB34 (talkcontribs) 01:05, 11 January 2014 (UTC)


I had to enlarge the map two or three times to be able to find the red dot indicating Mrs. O'Leary's barn - and then I had to scroll through the map to find it. How about adding an arrow that is large enough to be seen on the Wikipedia page at normalmagnification?Kdammers (talk) 06:48, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

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Chicago Fire of 1871[edit]

The Great Chicago Fire began on October 8, 1871. It happened on DeKoven Street at 9:00pm. It started in the O'Leary's barn. Nearly one-third of the city was destroyed. The fire lasted for three days. Some of the areas that were destroyed in this great fire were the O'Leary's house, a courthouse, a Tribune building, the Chamber of Commerce building, Bruno Goll's drugstore, Claire Innes neighborhood, and Horace White's house. the fire spread throughout the north and eat of Chicago. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) April 24, 2018


Great Chicago Fire is located in Streets in Old City, Baku, Azerbaijan
Great Chicago Fire
An example

The "red dot" showing the location of O'Leary's barn on a map is nearly impossible to see. Would it be possible to do something like this example.→ (talk) 06:18, 10 May 2020 (UTC)