BWMS Zombie Bears

This is about The Great Chicago Fire.

The Great Chicago Fire date

Friday, Oct. 6th 1871 at 12am

Chicago, IL, United States

Chicago, IL

This when the Great Chicago Fire happened.

The Great Chicago Fire Story

The Great Chicago Fire

The summer of 1871 was very dry, leaving the ground parched and the wooden city vulnerable. On Sunday evening, October 8, 1871, just after nine o'clock, a fire broke out in the barn behind the home of Patrick and Catherine O'Leary at 13 DeKoven Street. How the fire started is still unknown today, but an O'Leary cow often gets the credit.

The Rush for Life Over the Randolph Street Bridge, 1871 (Harper's Weekly, from a sketch by John R. Chapin)

The firefighters, exhausted from fighting a large fire the day before, were first sent to the wrong neighborhood. When they finally arrived at the O'Leary's, they found the fire raging out of control. The blaze quickly spread east and north. Wooden houses, commercial and industrial buildings, and private mansions were all consumed in the blaze.

The Rush of Refugees through the Potter's Field
toward Lincoln Park, 1871 (Harper's Weekly, from a
sketch by Theodore R. Davis)

After two days, rain began to fall. On the morning of October 10, 1871, the fire died out, leaving complete devastation in the heart of the city. At least 300 people were dead, 100,000 people were homeless, and $200 million worth of property was destroyed. The entire central business district of Chicago was leveled. The fire was one of the most spectacular events of the nineteenth century, and it is recognized as a major milestone in the city's history.

Below are some photographs of the damage caused by the fire and the stories behind the scenes of ruin. The first two photos were taken by Jex Bardwell, one of the many out-of-town photographers who, sensing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, hurried to the stricken city. The remaining photographs are the work of G.N. Barnard, a talented Civil War photographer. He opened a studio on Washington Street in the spring before the fire.

Farwell Building, 1871. (photo by Jex Bardwell)

Brothers John V. and Charles B. Farwell were two of the five partners in John V. Farwell & Company, the oldest dry goods firm in Chicago. Born in upstate New York and raised partly in downstate Illinois, they arrived separately in Chicago in the mid-1840s. In the course of their careers they became involved in every variety of social, cultural, political, patriotic, and religious, as well as economic, undertaking. Farwell Hall, the downtown headquarters of the Y.M.C.A., was named after John. Charles, who later became United States Senator from Illinois, was long active in Republican politics, and before the fire he successfully finished the stalled Washington Street tunnel project. The Farwell Building was located at 112-116 Wabash. After the fire the firm rebuilt several blocks west on the northwest corner of Monroe and Franklin Streets.

Trinity Church, 1871. (photo by Jex Bardwell)

Trinity Episcopal Church was erected in 1860 on the south side of Jackson Street between Michigan and Wabash Avenues. Following its destruction in the fire, it moved out of the center of the city, locating in 1873 at Michigan Avenue and 23rd Street, which was at that time the richest residential area in Chicago.

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."

Bigelow House, Looking North, 1871. (photo by G.N. Barnard)

Situated at the southwest corner of Dearborn and Adams Streets, the Bigelow House was handsomely furnished and ready to open on October 9, 1871. Unfortunately, the fire intervened, making a total ruin not only of the building but also of its proprietor's finances.

Van Buren Street Bridge, 1871. (photo by G.N. Barnard)

After the fire, all travel between the east and west sides of the river was done by way of Twelfth Street, which became congested with vehicles and pedestrians. All railroad trains on the South Side stopped at Twenty-second Street, two miles south of their usual terminus.

Creative Destruction

What the advancing inferno did not destroy, it still irreversibly changed. These artifacts demonstrate the fire's ability to take the simplest things and fuse them into strikingly appealing aesthetic objects. Clockwise, from the left, glass marbles (1919.9), screws, washers, and files.

Creative Destruction

More evidence of the fire's handiwork: a glass druggist's bottle (1949.197) and a metal cup (x.1327)

These two objects, along with several of the ruins of Chicago buildings, present some of the best evidence of the conflagration's accidental artistry. Below, a piece of metal from an unknown source shaped into an abstract form that suggests the wild destructive force of the flames. Below, an ingenious welding of several different familiar metal objects into a sculpture that is strange and new (1801-6H).


After a brief period of shock, Chicagoans began to rebuild their city. Within days a few pioneer businesses sprang up in sheds and stands among the ruins, and traffic started moving again. The rubble was swept away, a good portion of it pushed into the lake south of the river to create new real estate. Basic services were quickly started up again in temporary locations--the post office, for example, was set up in the Methodist Church on the corner of Wabash Avenue and Harrison Streets.

Corner of State and Madison After the Fire, 1871

Four horse-drawn streetcars at "the world's busiest intersection," as men in the street ponder the future of the downtown. Some broadsides, perhaps indicating the new addresses of businesses, are already posted, and the rubble is being gathered into piles, but the awesome wreck of the old city and the smoky atmosphere still dominate the scene.

First Store in the Burnt District, 1871
(Stereograph, Copelin & Hine)

Schock, Bigford & Company, selling cigars, tobacco, grapes, apples, and cider at "Old Prices," is generally credited as being the first retail enterprise to reopen in the devastated downtown.

The story of the Kerfoot Block is one of the most popular in the published accounts of the fire. William D. Kerfoot settled in Chicago in 1861 and entered the real estate business, which he reopened in a shanty (shown above) the day after the fire ended. His faith in himself and the city, summed up in his lack of hesitation and the crude sign he prepared that proclaimed, "All gone but WIFE CHILDREN and ENERGY," made him seem the embodiment of the undaunted determination of Chicago entrepreneurs.

W.D. Kerfoot Block 1871

View North from the Water Tower, ca. 1871-72
(Stereograph, J.H. Abbott)

This is one of a series of views documenting the progress of rebuilding from the top of the Water Tower. The lake shore is visible on the right, and Lincoln Park is straight ahead.

`Natural Disaster Project FLL Questions

Choose a community

Chicago, Illinois

The Great Chicago Fire

Choose a force of nature

Wild Fire

Learn about how it could affect your community


It can harm animals and their habitat. It can destroy peoples homes and they have to find a place to live.


Make picture to show insurance company what you have so you can get it back. You can have a fire alarm to alert you when your asleep. Have a fir-extinguisher in your house or a water source.


You can call 911 to give it out the information to the fire department.


Clear your mind of everything that happened, rebuild your house and mind.


Hernandez, B. (n.d.). The Great Chicago Fire Coloring Page. Retrieved from

1999). Retrieved from

Our Robotics Stuff


We use the big claw to get things on the ground where it does not pick it up but carries it with it.the wheels help it make it turn and move thing that made he robot hard to program was turning.and building we had to change the robot so we can make I better. We add more things and change the idea of the robot to impress the judges. Our robots name is Zombie Slayer 2000. Our team is a free spirited , funny , and smart bunch of people. Everyone did there part to make a great presentation and robot.

Core values poster

in our discovery we had to try to stay on focus we had some problems and but we came through focused and ready to do 3 parts of the FLL we mostly worked on our robot and presentation to Impress the judges.

The hard working we did made us work harder in class. Working with a team was fun we had some people try to take control but we still worked together we. We also hanged out when we were,not in robotics.

We help anyone who needs help some one will always have 1 job some work to gather to help each other.

In the “Coopertition” area, describe how your team honors the spirit of friendly competition, including any assistance provided or received from other teams. Tell the judges how your team helps each other, and other teams, prepare for and approach potentially stressful competition experiences during your season.

We do good if someone on the other team needs help we help them.If the other team needs ideas we give them so they can make a good robot.

Show Less

In the “Inclusion” area, describe how your team incorporated ideas from everyone and made each team member feel like a valued part of the team. Help the judges understand how working together you accomplished more than you could by working alone.

Even more

Names: Jeffrey, Jaxon,Brent, Osvaldo, kai, Devant,Nicklaus,and Victor.
Robots Name:Zombie Slayer 2000

1.Robot Design Information
Tell the judges information you want them to know about your robot’s design. You might tell them something about your game strategy you think is cool, or some interesting attachment you designed, or some other facts about your robot that you think are cool.

The claw is one feature that is important it's used to scoop up and carry the items. The wheels are made to turn instead of drifting around but turning was the tricky part.

2.Project Information
Tell the judges information you want them to know about your project. Examples include something special you learned, who you shared your research with, what experts you talked to, and what you learned about your community.

First lego league robotics black Water Middle school are robot is going to put out fires.It will help all who has bin in a fire or has seen a fire and people that can not see.It will put out home fire or good size fire.Are robot will shoot water by compress air(CO2).We will make it so it can move over bumpy places.And they will work day or night I will work on 6 batter.

3.Core Values Information
Tell the judges what you learned about FLL Core Values this season. Let them know about problems you solved, what you've learned about working together as a team and what Gracious Professionalism means to you.

As a team we had become friends we had made teamwork.

4.Fun Facts About Our Team
Tell the judges anything fun about your team that you want. It could be a funny story, your team motto, or anything else you’d like them to know.

Our team is funny , smart , sometimes we are free spirited this team