Chicago on Fire! Tour the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 Sites


"Late one night, when we were all in bed,

Old Mother Leary left a lantern in the shed;

And when the cow kicked it over, she winked her eye and said,

"There'll be a hot time in the old town, tonight."

I grew up singing this little ditty never quite realizing it was describing a real event, The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In fact, it wasn’t until an I watched an episode of Auction Hunters with Allen Haff and Ton Jones that I realized the true extent and impact of the Chicago Fire. It is hard to imagine anything as devastating.

However, I was shocked into reality when watching my two favorite guys explore storage lockers in the Windy City. Some of the items found were incredible. They found these round glass fire grenades filled with suppressants. They also found an old fire call box.

When you stay in a high rise luxury condo vacation rental at First Class Chicago, you will realize when looking out on the skyline is that buildings that pre-date the fire are few and far between.

This is because the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was mighty. It leveled the city. Literally, four miles of densely populated city were wiped out in the fire that lasted from Sunday night until Tuesday. Chicago was so hot after the fire, they couldn’t even return to aid victims for days following.

Although there are questions as to the validity of whether the fire started with Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, what is certain is that the rebuilding of Chicago after this devastation made Chicago into the city it is today. When money poured into the rebuild, Chicago emerged as a top U.S. city. This is an amazing bit of history and is well worth exploring.

Great Chicago Fire of 1871 tourism options

  • The Fire Museum of Greater Chicago: This is where Allen and Ton went to sell their incredible finds. It is clear they are the experts on Great Chicago Fire of 1871 memorabilia. Their website lists special events but is obscure as to their regular hours. My suggestion is to call before dropping by.
  • Create Your Own Adventure: This Chicago History Museum website allows you to plan your exploration geographically using walking maps. Some of the highlights of places to visit include visits to the site of the O’Leary home, which is, ironically the current site of the Chicago Fire Academy, and “the most venerable landmark of them all, the Water Tower.”No matter where you are staying, whether you find yourself in the Gold Coast neighborhood in a First Class Chicago Brownstone or in an ultra-luxurious First Class Chicago high rise, you can just click on this site and find all the great historical sites within walking distance. They even have an iPhone app.

The Great Chicago Fire  of 1871 gives a snapshot into our country’s history. The artifacts, alone, boggle the mind. It is incredible to think of a people in a world without internet or modern telephones fighting off a disaster of this proportion. On your next stay with First Class Chicago Vacation Rentals explore the Great Fire…Chicago will light you up! I know, I am ON FIRE FOR FIRST CLASS CHICAGO!