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Downtown Disasters (Chicago)

Steamhead Member Posts: 16,722
The first part of this documentary, about the 1903 Iroquois Theater fire, mentions in passing toward the end how Underwriters' Laboratories came into being:

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    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    Terrible fire......so many simple things not in place.....doors swinging in rather than out.

    Fire exit door with no stairs outside....how could someone be innocent with that oversight?
    State or city ordinance non compliance??? How about common sense???
    Someone should certainly have had been charged.

    Locked exits.....no in house fire alarm.

    Steam pipe radiator backstage with a trap on the outlet.....1903 maybe too early for rad traps?
    Sorry, couldn't help myself.....I notice radiators in all TV shows etc.

    Pretty well made documentary though.
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,214
    However, it seems the people in charge still did not learn a lesson. About 50 years later the Our Lady of Angels School had a devastating fire that killed 92 students and 3 nuns. Then in the 1970's and 80s there were multiple devastating and deadly fires on the West Side of Chicago. Basically the city just ignored the dangerous conditions because most of these building were occupied by the poor. A good deal of the west Madison street neighborhoods are empty, because so many buildings burnt down.

    The Iroquois Theatre would have been completed right around the time New York and Chicago were vying for the title of Largest City in the U.S. Chicago had pulled ahead with the highest population, according those that track those numbers. The fierce competition continued after Chicago got the Columbian Exhibition and then shortly thereafter the World's Fair. Life safety appears to have been sacrificed for building faster.

    Sounds rather familiar, doesn't it?
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  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,410
    I remember when the tunnels that had the pilings driven in them broke open. I remember wgn on cable in se michigan was 24/7 of the hole in the tunnel.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 880
    I was in Chicago only twice; once when I was going to Great Lakes Boot camp in November of 1964 and the other time when I was leaving in January 1965. I could not get away fast enough.
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,214
    I wasn't around until 1966, but Chicago seems to be a reflection of the best and the worst we are as a country. Rampant segregation and red lining really clobbered Chicago. I've read those involved in the Civil Rights marches in Chicago said it was the most intense hatred they felt anywhere they had marched... including anywhere in the south.
    At the same time, the magnificence of the Burnham Plan of Chicago is evident in the lakefront parks, boulevard system of parks, ( and even more so today with the addition of sculpture throughout the system) and fact that the top architects in the world preferred to establish practices, teach and build in Chicago. They preferred Chicago in part due to the incredible talent in the construction trades.
    John Heinrich, architect of the world renown Lake Point Tower, once related an anecdote to our class the standards to which the buildings had to reach. When the Civic Center was built and the bathrooms inspected, they would turn off the lights and take a flashlight and shine it from the bottom of the wall up. If there were any shadows, the wall had to come down and be completely redone. These buildings also used all ground plate glass in the facades. Any reflections on the facade are like perfect mirror images, not like the waviness of newer buildings.

    Chicago has been filled with some of the worst and best that we have come up with as a society, and that continues today.

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