Did the cow do it? You may know the story of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but now you can visit the very spot where it began. In this 150th anniversary year of Chicago’s great disaster, this tour will tell stories, bust a few myths, explain the re-building of the city and give you the true story of this disaster.
Developed in partnership with the Chicago History Museum (CHM), The Great Chicago Fire: Disaster and Recovery is a coach bus tour that follows the blaze's path of destruction and highlights the resiliency of the city during its recovery.
As a CAC docent provides commentary, learn how the site of the fire’s starting point on DeKoven Street became the Chicago Fire Department training facility. Trace the fire’s route to its northern boundaries in Lincoln Park. Along the way, learn about “fireproof” buildings that burned, the few structures that survived and the everyday residents who rebuilt the city.
Please note, this tour departs from and ends at the Chicago History Museum, located at 1601 N. Clark St.
Virtual Program: How the Great Fire Changed Chicago
Thursday, October 7 at 10am
The conflagration that tore through Chicago in October 1871 is often credited with rewriting our city’s history. Like most everything from that era, the Great Fire’s aftermath was an opportunity for those on the make. But was it really so clear-cut?
In-Person Program: Tales of the Night Chicago Burned
Wednesday, November 3 at 6pm
Join us for a live onstage performance by master storyteller Scott Whitehair. In this original work, Whitehair will weave together personal narratives of triumph and hardship experienced by those who survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Effective Friday, August 20, the Chicago Department of Public Health requires that everyone 2+ wear masks in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. This includes in our Center, anytime a walking tour goes indoors, and in the enclosed salon area onboard the vessels of Chicago’s First Lady Cruises. Learn more about our safety policies here.
Located at 111 East Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago, the CAC, including Box Office, Design Store and exhibit galleries, are open daily from 10am-5pm. Advanced tickets are not required to enter the Center.