The fire that pushed the architecture forward

How absurd the accident in Chicago set a new vector of development in town planning.

I had a slight hangover in the morning, and while I finished writing, it became a light intoxication, so today, immediately to the story without the eloquent podvodki.

Sit down comfortably according to the tickets purchased. We pass for the fare. And we go by car ̶в̶р̶е̶м̶е̶н̶и̶ imagination in 1871 from the birth of Christ.

Oh, these beautiful days of the 1870s. You drink from a puddle, you live in a shed. You are friends with street dogs, and at 35 already an old man.

The leaves grew yellow. While administrative reform was taking place in Japan, and the construction of the Moscow-Bretsk railway was underway in the Russian Empire, people in Chicago lived their normal lives.

Everything changed on October 8, 1871. On this day and the next two for the fire will destroy most of the city, and hundreds of inhabitants will die. And it all started with a small fire in a small barn along DeKoven Street near house 137. There are several versions of how this happened, we will consider them.

The most popular and erroneous version accuses all artiodactyls, namely one unfortunate cow. Immediately after the tragedy in the Chicago Tribune, an article appeared about the authorship of Michael Ehern. It described the cow of the O’Leary family, which overturned the kerosene lamp caused instant fire. This version has gained popularity due to several factors. O’Leary’s family was Irish Catholic immigrants, and in those days the US was anti-Irish in the air. Later, the journalist confessed that this story is the fruit of his imagination. Only in 1997, the Chicago City Council found the accusation of the O’Leary family and the cow to be erroneous.

According to another version, it all happened because of the love of milk. Daniel Sullivan, the first to report a fire, tried to steal milk from the barn. Further, for some reason, he set fire to a haystack, apparently to hide the traces of the crime, and the fire spread throughout the city.

Another version tells of a certain Louis Kone who started the fire, dropping the kerosene lamp, playing dice with O’Leary’s sons all in the same shed. If you trust the book of Alan Weix, he even admitted it personally.

And the latest version is hello from space. In today’s world, there is another controversial theory of the rise of the great Chicago fire.

In addition to the fire in Chicago, in the autumn season many other territories were burnt. Burned forests in Michigan, Iowa, Illionace, etc. The city of Pestito in Wisconsin, the town of Holland and the village of Manisti in Michigan burned down.

Summer in 1871 was particularly dry, hot and windy. This has affected such a huge number of fires, but some people believe that not only this.

In many sources, there is a certain Chamberlain (not to be confused with the Pokemon Charmander, although he is connected with fire, but this is not the one in question) who has taken up the issue of the Chicago fire. He revealed a certain pattern that the buildings burned from the inside. Steel beams and marble burned. A lot of corpses found in the vicinity on the fields and roads where there was no fire center, on the bodies there were no deadly wounds and burns. The events described by people from the newspaper news also introduced Chamberlain into confusion.

It seemed that the sky itself was burning.

Eyewitness of the fire number of times

The fire fell in the rain. Fire stones fell like fire from fire.

A witness of the fire number two

Based on the writings of astronomer Ignatius Donelly, who recorded the fall of all meteorites and comets in the 19th century, Chamberlain discovered a comet discovered by Wilhelm von Biehl in 1826. Once in almost 7 years the comet circled the earth. First it was noticed in the sky in 1839, then in 1846, in 1852 it changed its shape and split. Gradually it disintegrated and in 1859 there were already two on the horizon. And in 1872 in some parts of Europe there was a meteor shower.

Thus, Chamberlain discovered the relationship between the numerous fires and the fall of two parts of the comet Bijel.

However, this version did not become fundamental in the theory of the great fire in Chicago, since the debris of comets is most often burned in the atmosphere not reaching the ground.

A little bit about the fire

Burned almost everything. Hotels, shops, houses, businesses. About 100 thousand people were left without a home. Damage was 200 million dollars, and by today’s standards is about 4 billion dollars. According to different estimates, from 100 to 300 people died, which is quite small for such a large-scale catastrophe.

And here architecture?

It was in Chicago on the burned-out ruins in 1885 that the first skyscraper in the world was built, in ours, I will not say for other universes. The Home Insurance Building, which stood until 1931, was the starting point in the structure of high-rise buildings. Initially, it was a 10-story building 42 meters high, later completed two more floors and its height was 55 meters.

Architect William Jenny became an innovator in the construction of buildings. Unlike low-rise buildings, where the bulk of the structure lies on the load-bearing walls, he began using a metal frame. Thanks to this technology, the total mass of the building has decreased significantly.

The Home Insurance Building

But the architect did not dare to switch completely to the construction system he proposed. Therefore, the first skyscraper had both bearing walls and granite columns. A full transition to the steel frame occurred only in 1891 during the construction of the Wainwright Tower in St. Louis.

Now skyscrapers are built not only Chicago, but many other places in this world. It is not known how the history of architecture would turn out, if this tragedy did not happen.

Chicago now


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