Iroquois theatre disaster

The theater was advertised to be fireproof and state of the art, and its owners were working feverishly to make money. During a holiday matinee, a faulty spotlight set a curtain ablaze, and the terrible truths about the Iroquois were revealed: By the time help arrived, it was too late.

Iroquois theatre disaster

The syndicate that bankrolled its construction chose the location specifically to attract women on day trips from out of town who, it was thought, would be more comfortable attending a theater near the safe, police -patrolled Loop shopping district.

Upon opening it was lauded by drama critics; Walter K. Hill wrote in the New York Clipper a predecessor of Variety that the Iroquois was "the most beautiful The main floor, known as the orchestra or parquet, had approximately seats on the same level as the foyer and Grand Stair Hall.

Iroquois theatre disaster

The second level, the dress circle or [first] balcony, had more than seats. The third level, the gallery, had about seats. There were four boxes on the first level and two above.

A broad stairway which led from the foyer to the balcony level was also used to reach the stairs to the gallery level. Theater designers claimed this allowed patrons to "see and be seen" regardless of the price of their seats.

However, the common stairway ignored Chicago fire ordinances that required separate stairways and exits for each balcony. The design proved disastrous: Dressing rooms were on five levels, and an elevator was available to transport actors down to the stage level. A fly gallery where scenery was hung was also uncommonly large.

The Iroquois Theatre, following the tragedy, was renamed and reopened as the Colonial Theatre in It remained active until the building was demolished in Fire readiness deficiencies noted before the fire[ edit ] Despite being billed as "Absolutely Fireproof" in advertisements and playbills, [8] numerous deficiencies in fire readiness were apparent: An editor of Fireproof Magazine toured the building during construction and noted "the absence of an intake, or stage draft shaft; the exposed reinforcement of the proscenium arch; [9] the presence of wood trim on everything and the inadequate provision of exits.

When the captain reported the matter to his commanding officer, he was again told that nothing could be done, as the theater already had a fire warden.

Citation Information It was the deadliest theater fire in U.
Chicago Tribune - We are currently unavailable in your region With such a large loss of life, all of Chicago was affected and the catastrophe served as an astonishing wake- up call to theatre houses worldwide.
The deadly conflagration ushered in a series of reforms that are still visible today On December 30,the new Iroquois Theater in Chicago burned taking the lives of more than theatergoers.

Kilfyre was a form of dry chemical fire extinguisher also sold for dousing chimney fires in residential houses.

The user was instructed to "forcibly hurl" the contents of the tube at the base of the flames. The fire began high above the stage, so the Kilfyre, when thrown, fell uselessly to the ground.

Blue Beardwhich had been playing at the Iroquois since opening night.

Iroquois theatre disaster

The play, a burlesque of the traditional Bluebeard folk tale, featured Dan McAvoy as Bluebeard and Eddie Foy as Sister Anne, a role that let him showcase his physical comedy skills. Attendance since opening night had been disappointing, people having been driven away by poor weather, labor unrest, and other factors.

The December 30 performance drew a much larger sellout audience. Tickets were sold for every seat in the house, plus hundreds more for the " standing room " areas at the back of the theater. Many of the estimated 2,—2, patrons attending the matinee were children.

The standing room areas were so crowded that some patrons instead sat in the aisles, blocking the exits. Sparks from an arc light ignited a muslin curtain, probably as a result of an electrical short circuit. A stagehand tried to douse the fire with the Kilfyre canisters provided, but it quickly spread to the fly gallery high above the stage.

There, several thousand square feet of highly flammable painted canvas scenery flats were hung. The stage manager tried to lower the asbestos fire curtain, but it snagged. Early reports state that it was stopped by the trolley-wire that carried one of the acrobats over the stage, [14] [15] but later investigation showed that the curtain had been blocked by a light reflector which stuck out under the proscenium arch.

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He later wrote, "It struck me as I looked out over the crowd during the first act that I had never before seen so many women and children in the audience. Even the gallery was full of mothers and children. Some had found the fire exits hidden behind draperies on the north side of the building, but found that they could not open the unfamiliar bascule locks.

Bar owner Frank Housemana former baseball player with the Chicago Coltsdefied an usher who refused to open a door.

Fire breaks out in Chicago theater - HISTORY

He was able to open the door because his ice box at home had a similar lock. Houseman credited his friend, outfielder Charlie Dexterwho had just quit the Boston Beaneaterswith forcing open another door.The Iroquois Theater Disaster Killed Hundreds and Changed Fire Safety Forever The deadly conflagration ushered in a series of reforms that are still visible today.

Iroquois Theater fire centennial books by Anthony Hatch's (Tinderbox) and Nat Brandt (Chicago Death Trap: the Iroquois Theater Fire of ) each offer a helpful overview of the fire that is a good starting point for learning about the disaster.4/5. The Iroquois Theatre fire happened on December 30, , in Chicago, was the deadliest theater fire and the deadliest single-building fire in United States history.

At least people died as a result of the fire, but not all the deaths were reported, as some of Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States. Free College Essay The Iroquois Theatre Disaster The Iroquois Theatre Disaster On the afternoon of December 30, , the .

The Iroquois Theatre Disaster On the afternoon of December 30, , the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago, Illinois caught fire and claimed the lives of an estimated six hundred two spectators, the majority of whom were women and children enjoying an outing together over Christmas vacation.4/4(1).

Tinder Box: The Iroquois Theatre Disaster and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App/5(44). Customer reviews: Tinder Box: The Iroquois Theatre Disaster