Guarding the southern end of Michigan Ave. bridge stands a monument to the people of Chicago. It stands as a testament to the spirit of Chicago’s people – a celebration of Regeneration from the Ashes from the Great Chicago Fire.
The fire was among the worst American disasters of the 19th century and began on the south side of the city where, contrary to the O’Leary cow myth – later confirmed as a fabrication for good copy – it is unknown to history exactly what started it. There are accounts of men getting gambling within a barn – knocking over a lamp to theories that the fire itself spread from previous fires that burned earlier that day and were supposed to have been extinguished.
Despite it’s utter devastation, the Great Chicago Fire laid bare the weakness of the city – its construction of wood. Regeneration from the ashes would prove to be something different. Indeed a new city for a new era. Made of Steel and stone the city that rose from the ashes cemented itself as a foundation for commerce and manufacturing in the new great American industrial age.
Today, only two days after the city’s bonds have been lowered to junk status, this monument serves as a reminder to all of those that call Chicago its home that despite the challenges of crumbling infrastructure, under performing schools, shockingly bad finances, disgraceful segregation, and gang violence Chicago will again rise from the ashes. Indeed, like the days of old, it will be hoisted up on ‘the big shoulders‘ of those that call it home.