Chicago: Press of Rand McNally & Co, 1903. 93p. The Iroquois Theatre fir of December 30, 1903, took more lives than any other fire in American history. Six hundred and two people, mostly women and children, died in a flash fire that leaped from the atage to the audience during the second act of an elaborate holiday production. The multiple safety violations have been documented in Nat Brandt's Chicago Death Trap. Yet here was what was termed the grandest theatre in America waiting for a spark to set off the gas lines, the flimsy flammable curtain, the locked exit doors, and dozens of violations that led to the strictest enforcement in the nation. In its place the Ford Center for the Performing Arts arose but for the famillies and friends of those who perished the horror was not erased until the last survivors died near the end of the 20th Century. The book which was issued just before the fire described its ornate design under the guidance of Benjamin H. Marshall, the architect, Described are the beautiful curtains [made of asbestos not noted at the time], which in 15 pages describes the rich woods, curtains, and stained glass windows but not that the combination with locked windows provided the background for a horrendoujs disaster. Eddie Foy was in the cast and he escaped the fire after helping the female members of the cast to safety. On page 11 he and Blanche Adams are shown on the list of characters in the play, Mr. Blue Beard, which was being presented as the fire broke out during the second act. The Theatre Magazine of January 1904 gives one of the first in depth accounts of the disaster and provides many of the details that Iroquois management sought to minimize. (Inventory #: 018860)
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