The million-dollar Gay Street fire
On April 8, 1897, a small fire began in back of a hotel in Gay Street's business district and quickly spread through the expensive establishments that were the pride of the city. The fire claimed five lives and a million dollars' worth of property. Citizens criticized the city council for spending money on a new market house and Centennial celebrations rather than spending more on the newly-established professional fire department. Ordinances regulating fire escapes and shared walls found new support, as well.