Today marks the 143rd anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, where over 3.3 square miles of the city burned, leaving more than 300 people dead and over 100,000 people homeless.
Despite being, at the time, one of the worst natural distasters in US history, the will and spirit of the people of Chicago prevailed. By some accounts, ships bearing lumber to rebuild the city were already entering the mouth of the river as the embers were still smoldering three days later.
The first image shows the city before the fire and the second shows the conflagration spread from 157 DeKoven St, north to North Ave.
The third photo is a very detailed image of what we now call the Loop, taken from Franklin between Lake and Randolph, looking east, in the days after the fire. Note that rebuilding had already begun.
Click the photo to enlarge, or to see an even higher resolution version, go to this link: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/Attributed_to_George_N._Barnard_-_Untitled_%28Chicago_after_the_Chicago_Fire%29_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg