Saturday, March 4, 2023

Bloomington, Illinois' Great Fire of 1900.

Just after midnight on June 19, 1900, a great fire began sweeping through much of the city's downtown. By 8 am the following day, stunned residents struggled with the enormity of the devastation. Forty-five buildings and 4½ blocks were reduced to little more than smoking rubble.

It all began at 12:20 am when Bloomington patrolman John Brennan spotted flames in a second-story window of Model Laundry in the 100 block of East Monroe Street between Main and East streets.

Flames quickly spread to Benoni S. Green's harness and saddlery business immediately to the east. From the beginning, antiquated equipment combined with low water pressure hampered Bloomington firefighters.

"The city water pressure was very poor, and the only source was from six-inch water mains," Green's son, Ralph, recalled in 1948. "I well remember the four or five hose lines from which was flowing very scant and weak streams of water."

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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