Memorial to Fallen 21, 2004
S. Thomas Scarff
Chicago Fire Department
Exchange Avenue at Peoria Street, behind original Stockyard stone gate
Before the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the biggest loss of firefighters in one place occurred at the Union Stockyard Blaze in 1910. On December 22 of that year, a fire started in the Nelson-Morris Meat Packing Company. It quickly escalated to a 4-11 blaze. The collapse of the seven-story building killed 21 firefighters instantly. The incident was all but forgotten save for a small plaque in City Hall.
Bill Cosgrove, a retired Chicago fireman and technical advisor on the Ron Howard film Backdraft, wrote a book on the fire and became the driving force raising monies for the 8-foot bronze memorial. Artist S. Thomas Scarff attempted to recreate the scene of that fateful fire, showing the chief of the brigade, James Horan, holding a bugle upwards to warn the men of the falling wall. The second figure is of a truckman raising his axe to protect himself as he falls backwards. The third figure depicts a engine man focusing his hose on the fire and unaware of what is about to occur. The granite base, which includes the names of those who died that day as well as others who have perished in the line of duty, is pitched as the loading dock was pitched toward the railroad.