Explore Boston’s rebirth after the Great Fire of 1872. In this virtual program we’ll explore the route of the progression of the Great Fire, a disaster in Boston's commercial district that proved more costly than the legendary Chicago Fire the year before. Hear how the city's architectural design contributed to the spread and speed of the devastating conflagration, and learn how these fires reformed our fire prevention policies in America.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, this area was made up of some of Boston’s most fashionable residences, occupied by some of Boston’s most prominent citizens. Just prior to the Civil War, it became commercialized and was the center of the dry goods, wool, shoe, and leather industries in New England. Then, on Saturday night, November 9, 1872, fire destroyed the entire area. It then became known as the Burned or Burnt District. It was quickly rebuilt, however. The new granite, brick, and sandstone structures were described by contemporaries as “palaces” — commercial palaces, many of which remain today.