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Historical Chicago disaster birds eye view landscape painting
The Water Crib Fire
Oil on Linen

January 20 1909. One mile offshore on the Chicago south side, at 70th Street, approximately 100 workers were living on the intermediate crib. This structure was atop a shaft leading 180 feet down to a tunnel the workers were digging between the water crib, a mile further out, and the shore to bring fresh water to the city. As fire broke out on that cold morning, men jumped into the icy water to escape the flames. Soon, the tugboat TT Morford, seeing the flames from the crib came to the rescue, saving around 20 lives.

But, since the men were all poor immigrants, the death toll was an estimate and much remains a mystery surrounding the fire.