DeKoven Street (Chicago)

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DeKoven Street
1120 South
Length0.0775 mi (0.1247 km)
East endClinton (current) Stewart (historical)
West endJefferson (current) Halsted (historical)
Known forJohn DeKoven
The cottage of Catherine and Patrick O'Leary, 137 (now 558) W. DeKoven St. As this view suggests, the neighborhood was congested with mean wooden buildings and a variety of industry, a condition which helped to spread the fire of 1871 as rapidly as it did. A strong wind blowing towards the northeast spared the O'Leary cottage and the buildings seen here to its west. From a stereoptican view by A.H. Abbott, Photographer, whose studio at 976 (now 2201) N. Clark Street was consumed by the flames.

DeKoven Street is a street in Chicago, Illinois named for John DeKoven, one of the founders of the Northern Trust Company.[1]


The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 started in the barn behind the cottage of Patrick and Catherine O'Leary at 137 (after 1909, 558) DeKoven Street.[2] Although the popular story is that a cow kicked over a lantern to start the fire, Michael Ahern, the Chicago Republican reporter who created the cow story, admitted in 1893 that he had made it up because he thought it would make colorful copy.[3] At the time, the street was in a less prosperous neighborhood of Chicago.

The site is now occupied by the Chicago Fire academy,[1] near the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Canal Street, just southwest of the Loop. The address of the academy " design is the same as that where legend has it that Mrs. Mollie (sic) O'Leary's cow kicked over the lantern that started the Great Chicago Fire." [4]


The site is a designated landmark of the City of Chicago.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Haymer, Don; Tom McNamee (1988). Streetwise Chicago. Chicago: Loyola University Press. p. 30. ISBN 0-8294-0596-8.
  2. ^ Pierce, Bessie Louise (1957, rep. 2007). A History of Chicago: Volume III: The Rise of a Modern City, 1871-1893. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-226-66842-0. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ "The O'Leary Legend". Chicago History Museum. Archived from the original on 2011-01-10. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
  4. ^ "Dedicate New Fire Academy in Rite Today". The Chicago Tribune: B6. May 15, 1961.

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Coordinates: 41°52′08″N 87°38′29″W / 41.869002°N 87.641501°W / 41.869002; -87.641501