Sunday, February 25, 2018

February 25, 1939 -- Chicago Fire's Last Surviving Firefighter Dies

February 25, 1939 – George Leady, the last surviving fireman who helped to fight the Chicago Fire of 1871, dies at his home at the age of 94.  Leady was born in the city at a home at State and Harrison Streets.  At the age of 22, after serving four years as a machinist with the Illinois Central Railroad, he became a hoseman with Engine No. 9, helping to man a steam engine that pumped 500 gallons of water a minute.  The engine was thought too important to waste on another autumn fire when the fire that eventually would consume the city began on October 8, 1871.  After an hour, though, it was pressed into service and moved three separate times before it was overwhelmed.  Leady described himself as “the last man on the docks” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 26, 1939] on the south side of the river as the fire jumped to the north side where it would burn all the way to Fullerton Avenue.  After the fire Leady was made an engineer with the department and transferred to Engine No. 73, serving West Pullman, Kensington, and Roseland. Upon his retirement in 1907 department records showed that he had never lost a day’s pay.  At the Century of Progress World’s Fair in 1933 he and his wife, Bertha, whom he married a year before the 1871 fire, received a medal honoring them as the oldest married couple in Illinois.  Funeral mass for Leady takes place at St. Basil’s Church at Fifty-Firth and South Honore Streets.  The church, shown in the above photo, is gone and today the lot on which it stood is a small playground and a parking lot.  It was demolished in the early 1990's.

February 25, 1905 -- Ground is broken for the new Illinois Athletic Club as Colonel Frank O. Lowden uses a silver-plated pick to hack away at “some decayed oak flooring at the site of the projected building at 147-149 Michigan avenue.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 26, 1905] The president of the organization, William Hale Thompson, introduces Lowden, who says, “It has been only ninety days since the first work toward this new athletic club for Chicago was begun and in that time more than 3,000 members have been secured and more than $250,000 has been raised.  The celerity with which this movement has progressed is wonderful, and it will not be long until the new Illinois Athletic association has a waiting list.”

February 25, 1873 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports on the annual report of the City Steam-Boiler Inspector for 1872, and the news is not encouraging. 765 boilers were inspected with nearly a third found defective. The paper reports, "In view of the rapid increase of the manufacturing and commercial interests of the city, requiring the use of steam as a motor in the factories, its use as a heater and ventilation in the schools, churches, hotels, and other public buildings, the consequent increase in the number of steam-boilers -- the majority of them distributed among the most populous districts in the city, beneath pavements, etc., -- he [the inspector] urged the necessity for further legislation to secure the object for which the ordinance was passed, -- the security of lives and property from dangers attendant upon the ignorant or careless management of steam."

No comments: