Chicago as it is, showing the Burnt District [with] History of the Great Fires in Chicago and the West


A visual and descriptive account of the devastation wrought by the Chicago Fire of 1871.

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On the evening of October 8th, 1871, a small fire started on Chicago’s southwest side. Dry conditions and strong winds quickly kindled a blaze that consumed upwards of three square miles of the city over the course of two and a half days.

This map was published just weeks after the fire and shows the path of devastation through the city in a bold red, overlaid on a base map colored by wards. Street names, railroads and locations of interest are provided, but the clear emphasis is on the destruction suffered by the city.

The map folds into a first edition issue of “History of the Great Fires in Chicago and the West” by Rev. E.J. Goodspeed. This 676 page volume includes numerous illustrations and views of the city along with a detailed history, narrative of the disaster, personal accounts and speculation for the future. It also provides contemporary information on the Peshtigo Fire, which occurred in Wisconsin the same weekend and was responsible for far more deaths than the Chicago blaze.

Map Details

Publication Date: 1871

Author: Gaylord Watson

Sheet Width (in): 11.75

Sheet Height (in): 18.50

Condition: B

Condition Description: The book is in excellent shape, with original green boards and gilt spine. 8.5" x 6" and 676 pages, including numerous engravings. Each sheet is clean and complete, with little creasing and almost no soiling whatsoever. The fold out map is in decent shape, with several points of separation along fold lines (repaired on verso). A portion of the bottom of the sheet is missing and it has a few spots of foxing. One large tear (5") along the bottom center that has been repaired and reinforced.