“The hearts of our men and women are still brave,
and they look into the future with undaunted hearts.”
– Chicago Tribune editorial, October 11, 1871
Chicago acquired its best known nickname not because it was second-rate, but because in 1871 its inhabitants took the opportunity to build a “Second City” to replace the one destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire. One of the largest U.S. disasters of the 19th century, the Fire raged from October 8th to October 10th 1871. It claimed 300 lives, left 100,000 people homeless, and destroyed the city’s central business district.
On Saturday, October 8th the Little Sisters welcomed Monsignor Kenneth Velo to celebrate mass in remembrance of the 140th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Chicago Fire. It was also a Mass to honor our present day firefighters, the brave men and women of the Chicago Fire Department who sacrifice so much to protect our city.
The devastating effects of the Fire did not discourage Chicagoans. Like the phoenix that rises from the ashes, they set about rebuilding and quickly transformed what had been a city made of wood into one made of brick, steel and glass and worthy of hosting the 1893 World’s Fair only twenty years later. The faith, courage, and perseverance of past Chicagoans provides inspiration to us today as we do our part to make Chicago the best city it can be.
Photo: Monsignor Velo with Apartment Resident Marion Poltrock (left) and St. Mary’s Home Resident Ann Young (right)