Iroquois Theater After the Fire, Dec. 31, 1903
Dec, 1903
The Iroquois Theater in Chicago caught fire December 30, 1903 during a performance killing 602 people. Most the victims were women and children. This is at least twice as many deaths as was caused by the Great Fire in Chicago in 1871. As of 2009 it is still the deadliest single-building fire in the history of the United States. In terms of number of deaths from a building complex, it is surpassed only by the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001. There was a nationwide uproar to hold the theater owners and city officials accountable. Legal action was started very soon after the disaster with criminal charges filed and 272 civil lawsuits against the Iroquois Theater Company but the company was insolvent and the relatives of the victims went uncompensated. Clarence Darrow worked behind the scenes to have the criminal charges against several of the defendants dismissed. No one was sent to prison. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ppmsca-07431