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Chicago fire map

Chicago fire

By BRAD EDMONDSON
ePodunk


The fire started around 9 p.m. on Oct. 8, 1871, in the O'Learys' barn at DeKoven and Jefferson streets in the Western Division.

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Mrs. O'Leary later told a neighbor that one of her cows started it by kicking over a lantern. A strong southwest wind pushed the fire into the center of the city, which had been built hastily and mostly of wood.

Four square miles were burned and 110,000 were left homeless that night, but the city's greatest asset - its location - was not touched. The economic boom that created Chicago also rebuilt it quickly. The city's population increased from 300,000 in 1870 to more than 500,000 in 1880.

Date: Sept. 15, 2005

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