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La Salle Hotel Fire
On June 5, 1946, a fire broke out in the hotel, killing 61 people, many of them children.[17] The fire began in the Silver Grill Cocktail Lounge on the lower floor on the La Salle Street side adjacent to the lobby before ascending stairwells and shafts[18] The fire started either in the walls or in the ceiling according to the Chicago Fire Department around 12:15 a.m. but they didn't receive their first notification of the fire until 12:35 a.m.[19] The fire quickly spread through the highly-varnished wood paneling in the lounge and the mezzanine balcony overlooking the lobby. While a significant number died from flames, a greater number of deaths were caused by suffocation from the thick, black smoke.[20] Around 900 guests were able to leave the building but some 150 had to be rescued by the fire services and by heroic members of the public, including two sailors who were reported to have rescued 27 people between them.[19][20] Two-thirds of hotel fire deaths in 1946 occurred in the La Salle and Winecoff (Atlanta) fires.[21] The hotel fire was so devastating, it resulted in the Chicago city council enacting new hotel building codes and fire-fighting procedures, including the installation of automatic alarm systems and instructions of fire safety inside the hotel rooms.[20]

 


Architecture

The architects of this skyscraper building developed their own innovative architectural style within the "Chicago School". A special feature of this style is the "Chicago window" with a large pane of plate glass for each window flanked by constricted windows which could be opened. This created an illusion that the entire building was made up of glass.[11]

La Salle billed itself as "Chicago's Finest Hotel" and was a symbol of upper class extravagance in Chicago in the early twentieth century, with its grand ballrooms and luxury restaurants exuding a grandeur of the fine palace hotels of Europe.[12] The hotel was 22 stories high and claimed 1000 rooms. It was one of Chicago's leading hotels until North Michigan Avenue became host to the Drake Hotel (1918–20) and the Allerton Hotel (1923–4).[13] Resembling hotels of New York City, it had a particular similarity to

Exterior

The 80.47 m (264.0 ft) above ground level,[15] 22 story building was built on rock caissons and had two basements. The hotel frontage on La Salle Street was 178 ft (54 m) while the Madison Street frontage was 161 ft (49 m).[4] Its architectural style was also defined as "beaux-arts."[

Interior

Lobby

The hotel's Main Lobby was dramatic and opulent with green and gold decorations, carrying the theme through its carpets and drapes. It was furbished with marble throughout: floors, statues and a desk. Accents included brass fixtures and spittoons. There were over-sized, upholstered chairs, as well as shorter ones for women and children.[12]

Another fountain, this one glowing and blue, was located in the aptly named Blue Fountain Room. Proposed as a more intimate place to relax, the room was fitted with a marble statuette of Venus de' Medici and a lower, vaulted ceiling. The woodwork was silver maple.[16] Its unique light fixtures were red globes.[12]

 

 

 

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