Archive ID: 1986-041-10

Funeral procession after Iroquois Theater Fire

Date Created: circa 1903

Donor: Gloria Novak

Media Type: Photograph


The Iroquois Theater fire was the deadliest theater fire and the deadliest single-building fire at that time in United States history. The theater was claimed to be “fireproof beyond all doubt” when it opened on November 23, 1903. A full house was watching a matinee performance on December 30, 1903 when a fire broke out backstage. Lights went out, a panic ensued, and there were stampedes to the exits, most of which were locked. More than 600 people died. As a result of the fire, numerous changes were made to building codes for better fire prevention including the development of “panic bars” on doors which opened outward. Although this event occurred in downtown Chicago, there were deaths from all Chicago communities including the Southeast Side. This photo shows a funeral of fire victims on the East Side most likely along Ewing Avenue. The photo comes from a booklet, “East Side Centennial Commemoration” published in 1951 by the East Side Lions Club.

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Disasters   Historic Events   1900-1919 (WWI Era)   East Side   Other/Unknown   Photograph   1986-041   Animals   Buildings   Carriages   Fires   Funerals   Hats   Horses   Theaters