The conflagration that tore through Chicago in October 1871 is often credited with rewriting our city’s history. Like most everything from that era, the Great Fire’s aftermath was an opportunity for those on the make. But was it really so clear-cut? In this special 90-minute virtual event, we’ve assembled a broad panel of historians to answer your every question about the true impact of the Great Chicago Fire and the popular myths that continue to drive the city’s sense of self. We will consider a mix of stories examining:
- The process of how those iconic Great Chicago Fire images came to be, how they penetrated the media landscape at the time of the Fire, and how the images continue to inform future generations’ thoughts about Chicago.
- The real derivation of the many building safety improvements we often attribute as a direct response to the Great Chicago Fire.
- The displacement of Black and minority populations from downtown Chicago in the Fire’s aftermath, and its eventual role in shaping the Great Migration in Chicago.
- The many Chicago commemorations, festivals, and political maneuverings that seized upon the Great Chicago Fire to build citizens’ pride of place