One of the worst urban fires in U.S. history, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 began in a small barn on De Koven Street and eventually grew to consume nearly 17,450 buildings. By the time the fire burned itself out, the city had been left in ruins and hundreds had died.
Of course, today Chicago is known for being one of the most populous and grandest cities in the United States. What few realize, however, is that Chicago's modern magnificence may be a direct result of the fire that nearly destroyed the city. The rapid rebuilding effort that followed the fire was in many ways the impetus for turning Chicago into the economic powerhouse it is today.