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American History Tellers

Great Chicago Fire | Out of the Ashes | 4

After the 1871 fire destroyed a third of their city, Chicagoans wanted to do more than rebuild. They wanted to envision a new kind of American city. That included everything from changes to fire codes and labor laws to an entirely new style of architecture — the skyscraper.

Professor Ann Keating is an urban historian and expert on Chicago history both before and after the Great Fire. She and Lindsay discuss the rapid growth and social changes that made Chicago so vulnerable, what lessons city leaders learned — or failed to learn — in the fire’s aftermath, and the parallels between the Great Chicago Fire and other, more recent urban disasters.

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