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Out of the Ashes ...

On October 8, 1871, around nine o'clock in the evening, a fire started in the O'Leary's barn at 13 DeKoven Street, Chicago. The house and barn are pictured left.

Through much speculation and popular opinion, it has always been cited that the O'Leary's cow was the legendary cause of the fire.

A popular song lyric of the era says, "Late one night, when we were all in bed, Mrs. O'Leary lit a lantern in the shed. Her cow kicked it over, Then winked her eye and said, 'There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight!'"

Although Mrs. O'Leary has largely been exonerated through testimony that she was actually in bed at the time of the fire, the legend lives on.

It was a dry summer that year. The city's layout was haphazard at best and an overuse of wood products only provided kenneling for a fire that would soon rage out of control.

After two days of an incendiary blaze, hundreds were killed, millions of dollars in property were destroyed, thousands were left homeless, and almost four square miles had been ravaged.

Yet, from the smoldering ashes, the citizens of Chicago began to rebuild almost immediately and a new era began in the city's history. The resulting boom in building construction made Chicago one of the most populous, most economically profitable, and most modern cities in the United States. The Great Chicago Fire was a tragedy, but out of this disaster emerged the modern Chicago metropolis.

Sometimes out of the ashes of life's disasters emerges some of the greatest dreams and opportunities and breathtaking beauty we have ever seen or imagined. The key ... keep the faith, never give up, never quit, keep rebuilding.

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