Theatre Fire

In: Historical Events

Submitted By dwstahlheber
Words 2726
Pages 11
Iroquois Theater Fire

Abstract
On December 30, 1903 hundreds of adults and children were packed Chicago’s brand new Iroquois Theater to see a holiday showing of the popular comedy Mr. Bluebeard. The theater was the best in town, and was advertised to be completely fireproof by the owners and the architect who designed it. Little did the hundreds of patrons attending know that due to time and money constraints the theater was not as fireproof as everyone thought and it would soon become a fiery death trap. After it was all over with, more than 600 people would lose their lives making it one of the most deadly building fires in history, and forever changing fire science and safety.

Introduction On December 30, 1903 hundreds of people filled the Iroquois Theater to see a matinee showing of the comedy Mr. Bluebeard, starring a popular actor Eddie Foy. The Iroquois theater was Chicago’s newest and most polished theater and had only been open for five weeks. The theater was advertised to be fireproof by the architect who had designed it, Benjamin Marshal. Marshal had studied many theater fires from the past and thought that his design would be completely safe. It was advertised that, “The theater had more than twenty five emergency exits and could be emptied in less than five minutes” (Weird and Haunted Chicago). Even a fire resistant curtain made of asbestos was installed to keep the audience safe just in case of a fire. The theater was designed to hold 1,600 people, but was believed to be overcrowded with nearly 2,000 people for the matinee show. Out of the 2000 people, most were women and children because school was out for the holidays. Also, almost 400 actors, stagehands, and dancers crowded back stage for the performance. The hundreds of patrons had no idea that their fun day at the theater would turn out to be extremely deadly. By looking at…...

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