Reminiscences of Chicago During the Great Fire

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Mabel McIlvaine
R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company, 1915 - Chicago (Ill.) - 140 pages
Reminiscences by various persons, from manuscript and printed sources.
 

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Page 58 - I watched the increasing light a few moments. Red tongues of light began to shoot upward; my family were all aroused by this time, and I dressed myself for the purpose of going to the Tribune office to write something about the catastrophe. Once out upon the street, the magnitude of the fire was suddenly disclosed to me. The dogs of hell were upon the housetops of La Salle and Wells streets, just south of Adams, bounding from one to another. The fire was moving northward like ocean surf on a sand...
Page xxxii - Blackened and bleeding, helpless, panting, prone, On the charred fragments of her shattered throne Lies she who stood but yesterday alone. Queen of the West ! by some enchanter taught To lift the glory of Aladdin's court, Then lose the spell that all that wonder wrought. Like her own prairies by some chance seed sown, Like her own prairies in one brief day grown, Like her own prairies in one fierce night mown.
Page 64 - There was real danger to life all along the street, but nobody realized it, because the park was ample to hold all the people. None of us asked or thought what would become of those nearest the water if the smoke, and cinders should drive the whole crowd down to the shore, or if the vast bazaar of luggage should itself take fire, as some of it afterwards did.
Page 63 - Avenue, there are probably some mule drivers in Cincinnati who would say it was a lie. But I did not. The only quarrelsome person I saw was a German laborer (a noted exception to his race), who was protesting that he had lost everything, and that he would not get out of the middle of the road although he was on foot. He became very obstreperous on this point, and commenced beating the head of my horse with his fist.
Page xxxii - Aladdin's court, Then lose the spell that all that wonder wrought. Like her own prairies by some chance seed sown, Like her own prairies in one brief day grown, Like her own prairies in one fierce night mown. She lifts her voice, and in her pleading call We hear the cry of Macedon to Paul — The cry for help that makes her kin to all. But haply with wan fingers may she feel The silver cup hid in the proffered meal — The gifts her kinship and our loves reveal. BILL MASON'S BKIDE HALF an hour till...
Page 69 - Works stopped, the sewers no longer discharged themselves into the river. So this might be used; and it was. Twenty-four hours had not passed before tens of thousands of people were drinking the water of Chicago River, with no unpleasant taste or effects. The work-teams of my friend being engaged in hauling water for people who could not get any from the wells or the river or lake, he placed at my disposal his carriage, horses, and coachman, whom he directed to take me and the ladies to any place...
Page 3 - I contemplated the ruin that was working, and the tears arose to my eyes. I could have wept at that saddest of sights, but I choked down the tears, and they did not rise again that night. When I crossed the river, I made a desperate attempt to reach my office on Madison Street beyond Clark. I pressed through the crowd on Randolph Street as far as La Salle, and stood in front of the burning Court-house. The cupola was in full blaze, and presented a scene of the sublimest as well as most melancholy...
Page 59 - I did not reflect that the city water works, with their four great pumping engines, were in a straight line with the fire and wind. Nor did I know then that this priceless machinery was covered by a wooden roof. The flames were driving thither with demon precision. Billows of fire were rolling over the business palaces of the city and swallowing up their contents. Walls were falling so fast that the quaking of the ground under our feet...
Page 59 - ... one, which in turn would perform the same direful office for its neighbor. It was simply indescribable in its terrible grandeur. Vice and crime had got the first scorching. The district where the fire got its first firm foothold was the Alsatia of Chicago. Fleeing before it was a crowd of blear-eyed, drunken, and diseased wretches, male and female, half naked, ghastly, with painted cheeks, cursing and uttering ribald jests as they drifted along. I went to the Tribune office, ascended to the editorial...
Page 60 - What happened at the Tribune Building has already been told in your columns. We saw the tall buildings on the opposite sides of the two streets melt down in a few moments without scorching ours. The heat broke the plate-glass windows in the lower stories, but not in the upper ones. After the fire in our neighborhood had spent its force, the editorial and composing rooms did not even smell of smoke. Several of our brave fellows who had been up all night had gone to sleep on the lounges, while others...

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