Author: David Cowan
Publisher: Lake Claremont Press
Format: Soft Cover
Publication Year 2001
In Great Chicago Fires, acclaimed author and veteran firefighter David Cowan tells the story of the other “great” Chicago fires, noting the causes, consequences, and historical context of each-from the burning of Fort Dearborn in 1812 to the Iroquois Theater disaster to the Our Lady of the Angels school fire. He also explores lesser-known fires such as fatal tenement and flophouse blazes that often underscore how poverty and poor living conditions set the stage for these urban catastrophes.
Along the way, Cowan follows the colorful evolution of Chicago’s firefighting forces from early 19th-century citizen bucket brigades to the armada of the modern day fire department, lacing his narrative with the dangers of his profession, including a vivid account of the worst day in American fire service history when twenty-one firefighters died battling a fire at Chicago’s Union Stockyards.
In transporting readers beyond the fire line and into the ruins, Cowan brings readers up close to the heroism, awe, and devastation generated by the fires that shaped Chicago.