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  Great Fire of 1849
Category:  St. Louis and the West
Brief Description:  A huge fire swept through the city causing $6.1 million in damage. The Great Fire of May 1849 devastated 15 city blocks along the riverfront and destroyed 23 steamboats. The fire burned practically the entire area east of Third Street between Walnut and Locust Streets (now in the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial). The fire began on the steamboatd White Cloud moored in the St. Louis harbor. While the volunteer fire company fought the fire, it burned through a rope that held the boat to the dock. The White Cloud floated away, setting fire to 22 other steamboats that quickly spread to more boats and the wharves. Frieght stacked on the levee added fuel to the fire. Within a matter of hours, most of the riverfront was ablaze. Estimates of property losses were placed at $6 million, including damage to many of the City´s leading businesses.The fire put thousands of St. Louisans out of work and left hundreds homeless. While the fire destroyed the City´s earliest surviving buildings, which were largely made of brick and wood, it created the opportunity for more substantial rebuilding. The structures which emerged following the fire were built with particular emphasis on fireproofing. They were generally four or five stories in height with heavy brick walls faced on the street front with stone or cast iron facades.
Year:  1849
Decade:  1840 - 1849
Beginning Date:     May. 17, 1849
Ending Date:     May. 17, 1849

Physical Growth of the City of St. Louis



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