Fire escapes on Couch Alley side
of Iroquois Theatre in Chicago.
Iroquois promotional material:
"As for exits, they are far
more numerous, the entire north frontage being
available for such service in case of emergency.
Another large emergency exit leads across the
stage to Dearborn Street from the passageway and
doors behind the boxes on the south side of the
auditorium proper. The directness of entrance
and the availability of exits are a praiseworthy
feature of this admirably planned house of
There were conflicting reports about the existence or
absence of steps leading from the top-most fire
escape platform from the second floor balcony,
Door 31. The steps were there but the landing
was a 24" drop from the floor of the theater.
People at the front of the crowd blocked the view of
the landing for those behind them which mean people
did not know until they were at the door threshold
that they had to step down 24" and they were being
pushed by the crowd from behind. Children, old
people, women wearing ankle-length dresses, some
fell when they reached that landing, and others fell
After the fire, Chicago's theaters were inspected to
determine the level of compliance with city
ordinances. Fire alarms were installed in only
thirty-three theaters and only six of thirty-seven used fire-resistant
paint on wood surfaces. None had sprinklers.
study of fire escapes in Elizabeth Mary
André's thesis on fire escapes.