By Corey Sandler
There are many things terrible about a great fire. Lives, property, history lost.
But if you’re looking for something positive about the destruction of a city by fire, there is this: when a boomtown burns down and is rebuilt, the result is often a handsome showpiece of a particular style.
Such was the case in the core of the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666. The Chicago Fire of 1871. Virginia City in Nevada in 1875 at the peak of the silver mining boom. San Francisco after the earthquake and fire of 1906.
Ålesund was almost totally destroyed on January 23, 1904.
The familiar story is that the fire began after a cow kicked over a torch and in the cold night a wind-driven fire raced through the wooden town, destroying about 850 homes, killing one person, and leaving more than 10,000 residents without shelter.
German Kaiser Wilhelm had been a frequent vacationer to Ålesund and coastal Norway. After the fire, Wilhelm sent four warships with materials to build temporary shelters.
And then the town was rebuilt in stone, brick, and mortar in Jugendstil, the Germanic version of Art Nouveau style.
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