Jan 18, 2016

McCormick Place Destroyed by Fire in 1967

The scope of the disaster was hard to fathom. Tribune reporters and photographers who raced to the scene that bitterly cold January night in 1967 sent word that McCormick Place was ablaze, engulfed in flames, raging — destroyed. Back at Tribune Tower, the night editor said, "It can't be."

But it was. The gleaming white convention center, which had opened in November 1960 and was the centerpiece of the city's dominant trade show business, was gone.

The building that was supposed to be fireproof and "outlast Rome's glories" was consumed frighteningly fast. Smoke was reported by janitors at 2:05 a.m. on Jan. 16. By 2:30 a.m., when Fire Commissioner Robert Quinn arrived, he upgraded it to a five-alarm fire. Eighteen minutes later, he ordered the first special alarm.

One person died in the fire, a 31-year-old security guard named Kenneth Goodman, whose burned body was found in the rubble.

Dialogue below  from Facebook Page Growing up in Chicago


Tim DiMasi Sr. I was working there the night of the fire. There was a security guard who was touted as a hero for leading several of us to safety. In reality he lead us to a bank of doors that were chained/locked. Fortunately we we able to break down the doors. I vividly recall seeing the flames crawling up the wall in the NW corner of the 42 level. No more that 45 minutes later it was apparent the building was gone. Housewares Show was going to open the next day. The 20 and 7 levels were looted
LikeReply16January 15 
Troy M. Paul Damn!
LikeReply1January 15
Katherine Morrison Wow! What a story.
LikeReplyJanuary 16
James Green Tim DiMasi, wouldn't that be a violation of fire safety code? Why did they have exit doors chained and kocked? It doesn't make sense.
LikeReplyJanuary 16
Route Sixtysixer It is against municipal fire code to bar the doors. But as to the reason, as stated, levels were looted.
LikeReplyJanuary 16
Tim DiMasi Sr. Ya know, until just now that never crossed my mind. As you entered McCormick Place (42 level) out front near the bus turnaround you could enter the exhibit floor to the left (north) or right (south) through "crash" doors. We were lead to the latter. It were those that were chained. Fortunately there were enough of us to push through.
LikeReplyJanuary 16
Tim DiMasi Sr. W/regard to the looting it was primarily from the 20 and 7 levels. Everything on the main (42 level) was destroyed. Damage on the lower levels was mostly from water and smoke.
LikeReply1January 16 
Evelyn Hampton A friend was a security guard at McCormick Place for the Auto Show and had a picture taken while guarding James Bond's 007 Aston Martin car. This was before the fire. He had the day off and was not at work when the place burned down. I understand the only fire fatality was a security guard.
LikeReply19 hrsEdited
Craig Harlan Hullinger

Write a reply...
Zenobia L Silas-Carson I will try to make this short because I am a long winded Chicago girl in Minnesota where no one cares about my Chicago stories. My mother went back to college when I was a teen and got her Associate of Arts degree in the Arie Crown theater at McCormick Place...the original one. I forgot all about this fire until just now. Made me recall how proud I was of my mother on the night as she crossed the stage.
Mary Rickard Luque I remember this so well! My Dad took me down to the McCormick Place --seemed like the day after the fire-- and I vividly remember standing with him, just outside a door, looking inside at the destroyed building.
George Pasztelan I remember they didn't install fire protection.their reasoning was that the building was fire proof,unfortunately the things that they put inside,were not.
Mary Patricia Mahieu Moebius remember going to HS first period...teacher a current events buff...everybody talking like crazy about the fire...only the teacher didn't know what had happened...so everybody got an A that class because we knew our current event and she didn't...only ...See More
Rob Rife Just another story in a long history of Democrat corruption that started in the Daley era- fire inspectors paid off disaster occurs

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