Chicago Burns Again—and Again
Although it occurred 100 years ago, it’s still not too late to see the great Chicago fire if you go to the New Jersey Fire Museum at 177 Valley Street, South Orange, N.J. There the fire that started on the night of October 8, 1871, and burned into October 11 is depicted in a 180-square-foot automated diorama.
Eugene I. Morris, founder and curator of the museum, explains that the diorama was made from photos and sketches of Chicago before, during and after the fire. Smoke, “flame” lighting and water add realism to the display, which contains many buildings made to scale as well as figures of some 200 persons. Miniature teams, carriages and animals further add to the lifelike drama of the fire scene. The Chicago River flows through the diorama and hose streams reach into buildings.
Four years of work went into the construction of the diorama, which Morris estimates is worth about $100,000 because of the number of man hours involved in making the details and achieving automation.