Built in 1909, Chicago’s 22-story LaSalle Hotel had a walnut-paneled lobby with marble floors, several dining rooms, and a roof garden. A central elevator shaft provided access to 1,000 guest rooms.It also had combustible acoustic ceiling tiles, hollow pockets in the walls and ceilings, combustible rugs and furnishings, and an open light well that ran from the lobby to the roof. It had no sprinklers, fire alarm system, or firestops in the ventilation shafts.
The fire that put the lie to the hotel's claim of perfect fire safety started on June 6, 1946, and killed 61 people. Another 200 were injured. To read more about the deadliest hotel fire in Chicago's history, read "Chicago's LaSalle Hotel Fire" in the latest issue of NFPA Journal.