aE Mayor Richard M. Daley and many high ranking officials in the city of Chicago's government were warned in advance of the potentially fatal effects of such a heat wave, but as temperatures soared over 100F (with a heat index nearing 130F) very little was done.
In his book Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, Eric Klinenberg brings to light how a number of social, political, ecological, and economical factors aligned to create one of the largest and most traumatic meteorological events in recent history. An event of such magnitude that it doubled the number who died in the great Chicago fire of 1871, and eclipsed the death toll of Hurricane Andrew by a figure twenty times as great.
The group that was most affected by the events of the July, 1995 heat wave was the increasing population of poor elderly who live alone in social isolation, especially those who live in areas with exceedingly high crime rates. Seventy-three percent of those who perished were over the age of sixty-five. In 1970 about 10.9 million people lived alone, by 1996 that number soared to 24.9 million. Of those reported as living alone in 1996, forty percent, or about 10 million were