Through the Flames and Beyond: Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire


Friday, October 8, 2021

6:30 PM to 7:15 PM

Central Time (US & Canada)


This program is free and open to all; please register in advance. The registration period has closed for this event.


After roaring out of Mrs. O'Leary's barn and consuming everything in its path, the Great Chicago Fire surged toward the home of Mahlon D. Ogden, brother of the city's mayor. Standing on the site of what is now the Newberry Library, Ogden's home, made of wood, seemed destined for oblivion.

Yet against all odds, the home proved an immovable object in the face of the fire's unstoppable force, emerging relatively unscathed after the greatest disaster in the history of Chicago.

How did this happen? Who saved the home? And what can we learn from those who survived the Fire as we confront catastrophic events today?

Join us outdoors on the front steps of the Newberry on Friday, October 8, for a special event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire. Experience the story of the Great Fire and the Newberry's connection to it through a magic lantern show—a popular nineteenth-century entertainment in which narration and music interact with an engaging projection of images.

You'll be edified, entertained, and riveted by the dramatic tale of how Chicago made it through the flames and beyond.

This event is produced in partnership with the Hideout. Magic lantern slides by Kathleen Judge. Music directed by Jeffery Thomas.


The speakers and narrators for this event are: Ann Durkin Keating, Kathleen Rooney, Anne-Sophie Rouveloux, and Shermann Dilla Thomas.

Your generosity is vital in keeping the library's programs, exhibitions, and reading rooms free and accessible to everyone. Make a donation today.

Please note: This is an outdoor, in-person event taking place on Walton Street in front of the Newberry. Seating, placed to accommodate social distancing, will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. You are welcome to bring your own chairs if you wish. No food or beverages, please.

In accordance with city of Chicago guidelines, masking remains encouraged in crowded outdoor settings. If you feel sick on the day of the event, or have been in contact with someone who is sick, please stay home and visit us another time.

In case of rain, this program will be moved inside the Newberry. Masks are required indoors regardless of vaccination status.

In compliance with an emergency travel order issued by the Chicago Department of Public Health, some visitors arriving from outside Illinois must take certain safety measures before visiting the Newberry.


Walton Street in front of the Newberry
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, IL 60610

In case of rain, this program will be moved inside the Newberry.

Click here for directions

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