Chicago Fire


The Great Chicago Fire

Among the Ruins of Chicago, 1871

Among the Ruins of Chicago, 1871. (photo by G.N. Barnard)

The large objects in the foreground appear to be safes that made it through the fire and now await their owners' attempts to open them and claim their contents. In 1910, A.S. Chapman, who was seven at the time of the fire, recalled going along when his father checked his office on Randolph Street: "Safe-breaking was a popular industry for a few days, conducted with the full approval and in the presence of safe-owners by skilled men who sprung into sudden demand. My mind yields another picture. Along Randolph street safes have been dragged into the street. Men grimed with soot and ashes work like fiends with sledge hammers and steel wedges. It must have been the practice to keep money in safes. Money--money; everybody looking for money in safes. I see men and women standing round a safe as its door is forced open. The air rushes in and I see their hopes turned to ashes as rolls of bills crumble at its touch. The books in my father's safe escaped with no more than a scorching."



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