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Dec. 30, 2013 marked the 110th anniversary of the Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago—a conflagration that took 605 lives, mostly women and children, and forever changed the way we look at fire protection in public buildings.

Like the Titanic almost 10 years later, the Iroquois’s designers and builder touted the structure as modern, magnificent, and safe—advertised as “absolutely fireproof.” But municipal graft and corruption, and a rush to finish the job before the holiday season, resulted in a structure that was visually beautiful, but structurally and functionally unsound.

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