Fires 150 years ago leveled, remade Michigan city

  • Source: The Alpena News
  • Published: 07/13/2022 12:00 AM

A pair of large fires in the late-1870s in Alpena altered the shape of the newly incorporated city and the development afterward remains visible today thanks to tougher building requirements inspired by the blazes. The fires not only shifted future development from Alpena’s north side to the other side of the Thunder Bay River, but also led to the establishment of the city Fire Department and motivated what was then called the Alpena Common Council to draft and implement new zoning and building codes to help bolster safety. Still, many people suffered loss of property, loss of livelihoods, and even lost their lives because of the intensity of the fires. Alpena incorporated as a city on March 29, 1871. Less than a month later, a large fire broke out in the business district along the north shore of the Thunder Bay River.


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