WBEZ | disasters http://www.wbez.org/tags/disasters Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A quiz on famous Chicago disasters http://www.wbez.org/programs/eight-forty-eight/2012-06-19/segment/quiz-famous-chicago-disasters-100208 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/chicago fire diorama flickr.Vic Bit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WBEZ history blogger John Schmidt quizzes listeners on the biggest and best Chicago diasters.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>CHICAGO DISASTERS QUIZ</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p><strong>1. What feature film climaxes with the Great Chicago Fire?</strong><br />(A)<em> Fire on the Prairie</em><br />(B) <em>Mrs. O&rsquo;Leary&rsquo;s Killer Cow</em><br />(C) <em>The Night Chicago Died</em><br />(D)<em> In Old Chicago</em><br /><br /><strong>2. In 1977 a Loop &lsquo;L&rsquo; accident left 11 people dead. What caused the accident?</strong><br />(A) Two trains collided.<br />(B) A helicopter crashed into the &lsquo;L&rsquo; structure.<br />(C) A passenger tried to hijack a train.<br />(D) A train fell off the tracks during a snowstorm.<br /><br /><strong>3. What famous entertainer was a hero in the Iroquois Theatre Fire?</strong><br />(A) George M. Cohan<br />(B) Eddie Foy<br />(C) Al Jolson<br />(D) Lily Langtry<br /><br /><strong>4. What was notable about the sinking of the Rouse Simmons?</strong><br />(A) The ship sank after crashing into the old Michigan Avenue Bridge.<br />(B) The ship was carrying over $100 million in gold.<br />(C) The Rouse Simmons was Chicago&rsquo;s Christmas Tree Ship.<br />(D) The former captain of the Eastland went down with the Rouse Simmons.<br /><br /><strong>5. What is the traditional site of the Fort Dearborn Massacre?</strong><br />(A) North and Clark<br />(B) Wacker and Michigan<br />(C) 18th and Prairie<br />(D) 35th and Shields</p><p>-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------<br /><strong>ANSWERS</strong></p><p>d a b c c</p><p>1. (D) In Old Chicago. This was a 1937 melodrama starring Tyrone Power, Don Ameche, Alice Faye, and Alice Brady&mdash; who won a supporting actress Oscar as Mrs. O&rsquo;Leary. The special effects are primitive by today&rsquo;s standards, but the movie was a big hit 75 years ago.<br /><br />2. (A) Two trains collided. During the February darkness of an afternoon rush hour, a train rounded the curve from Wabash into Lake, and hit the back of another train stopped at the State-Lake station. Three cars of the rear train fell off the track onto the street. Besides the 11 dead, 180 people were injured.<br /><br />3. (B) Eddie Foy. The fire started during a musical comedy performance. Foy went on stage, and remained there long after he could have escaped, trying to calm down the audience. When he could no longer do that, he did manage to get out safely. The incident is dramatized in Bob Hope&rsquo;s film The Seven Little Foys.<br /><br />4. (C) The Rouse Simmons was Chicago&rsquo;s Christmas Tree Ship. In 1912, the Rouse Simmons went down in a storm on Lake Michigan. It was bringing Christmas trees to Chicago from the forests of northern Michigan. The wreckage was found in 1971.<br /><br />5. (C) 18th and Prairie. In 1812, a group of U.S. soldiers and settlers were evacuating Fort Dearborn, and were ambushed by Potawatomi warriors. In 1870, one of the survivors said that the incident had started near a particular grove of cottonwood trees, which then stood at 18th and Prairie. Later historians have concluded that the battle might have taken place closer to current Roosevelt Road.</p></p> Tue, 19 Jun 2012 08:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/eight-forty-eight/2012-06-19/segment/quiz-famous-chicago-disasters-100208 The 'Eastland' disaster http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-06/eastland-disaster-99730 <p><p>Even at its widest part, the Chicago River is not much of a river. You can walk across one of the downtown bridges in less than a minute. The water here is barely 20 feet deep. Calm, peaceful and not very dangerous.</p><p>July 24, 1915 was a Saturday. That morning the steamship <em>Eastland</em> was moored at the south bank of the river, just west of the Clark Street Bridge. The ship was scheduled to depart for a cruise to Michigan City. Most of the 2,500 passengers were employees at the Western Electric plant in Cicero, on their way to a company picnic.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/00--The Eastland.jpg" title="The 'Eastland' (author's collection)" /></div></div><p>Boarding began at 6:30 a.m. The ship began to list to starboard. This wasn&rsquo;t unusual, and the crew took measures to balance it. &nbsp;</p><p>Shortly before 7:30, the <em>Eastland </em>cast off. After an hour of sways and straightening, the ship was now listing toward port&mdash;in this case, away from the dock. During the next few minutes the list continued. Finally, the ship simply rolled over onto its side.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/E--survivors%20and%20rescuers.jpg" title="Survivors being rescued from the hull (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" /></div><p>The whole thing happened so quickly. There wasn&rsquo;t time to grab life jackets, or get into the lifeboats. Many of the passengers had gone below deck to get out of the cool morning drizzle, and were trapped.</p><p>The <em>Eastland</em> settled into the mud at the bottom of the river. The hull jutted out above the water line. The ship was barely 20 feet from the dock.</p><p>Help was immediately on the scene. Some passengers had made their way to the hull of the overturned ship and jumped off into rescue boats. Others were plucked out of the river. Meanwhile, firemen clambered atop the wreck and began cutting through the hull, hoping to free those trapped below.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/E--crowds.jpg" title="Crowds behind police lines on La Salle Street (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" /></div><p>A total of 848 people died. Among the dead, 22 families were entirely wiped out. The <em>Eastland </em>sinking was the single deadliest disaster in Chicago history.</p><p>Someone had to take the blame. Both state and federal investigations were launched. Though the captain and some others were indicted under various charges, the cases were never brought to trial.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/E--floating morgue.jpg" title="Temporary onsite morgue (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" /></div></div><p>The <em>Eastland</em> itself was raised, sold to the Illinois Naval Reserve, and became a training ship called the <em>Wilmette</em>. It was scrapped in 1947.</p><p>Nobody really knows what caused the <em>Eastland</em> to capsize. One story is that the passengers suddenly rushed to one side of the deck to look at something on shore, and that caused the tipping.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/E--funeral%20in%20Cicero-2.jpg" title="Funeral for Cicero couple (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" /></div><p>Most likely, the original design and later modifications to the<em> Eastland</em> had simply made it top-heavy. And three weeks before the tragedy, the ship had added three lifeboats and six life rafts to its upper deck. This last 12 tons of weight may have been just too much.</p><p>So in the end, we might say the <em>Eastland</em> was victim of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Those new lifeboats and life rafts had been put on board because of new federal safety regulations&mdash;which had been enacted after the sinking of the <em>Titanic</em>. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/E--raising%20steamer.jpg" title="Raising the 'Eastland' (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" /></div></p> Tue, 19 Jun 2012 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-06/eastland-disaster-99730 The Great Loop Flood http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-04/great-loop-flood-97894 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP920415053.jpg" style="height: 1018px; width: 620px;" title="Water is pumped out of the basement of the Chicago Board of Trade, right, on April 15, 1992, as businesses tried to cope with flooding in the Loop. (AP/Charles Bennett)"></div><p>Twenty years ago today, Chicagoans got an unexpected history lesson. April 13, 1992 -- the day of the flood.</p><p>Early in the 20th Century, a network of tunnels was built 40 feet below the streets of downtown&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04-13--Marshall%20Field%27s%20%28Wikipedia%20Commons%29.jpg" style="float: left; width: 325px; height: 216px; " title="Freight tunnel at Marshall Field's, 1912 (Wikipedia Commons)"></p><p>Chicago. The tunnels were used mostly for hauling freight between Loop buildings. They were abandoned during the 1950s.</p><p>By 1991 most Chicagoans knew nothing about the freight tunnels. That December, a contractor happened to be sinking wooden pilings into the river at the Kinzie Street Bridge. The work caused a crack in one of the tunnel walls. The city was notified about the accident.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">Months passed. There was no water leak, so there didn’t seem to be any hurry about fixing the crack. Then, shortly before 6 a.m. on the morning of April 13, the Fire Department received a call about flooding in the basement of the Merchandise Mart.</div></div><p>Had a water main broken? That explanation was soon discarded, as the real problem became evident–the river had pushed open the crack in the freight tunnel wall, and was pouring through.</p><p>The flood spread southward, into the Loop. Electric and gas lines were knocked out. More basements were flooded. The waters eventually reach as far south as the Hilton.</p><p>Trading was suspended&nbsp;at the exchanges. Government offices shut down. Businesses closed early and sent their employees home–but not on the subway, because the power was out there, too. Thousands of people milled aimlessly around&nbsp;downtown, trading rumors.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04-13--Kinzie%20St%20Bridge.JPG" style="float: left; width: 325px; height: 216px; " title="Where it started--Kinzie Street Bridge"></div></div><p>It was an odd disaster. At street level, everything looked as it always had. Officials assured the public that the situation was under control. Governor Jim Edgar&nbsp;met with Mayor Richard M. Daley at City Hall. Afterward the governor told reporters there was no need to call out the National Guard.</p><p>About 11 a.m. the&nbsp;river locks were opened. That let the Chicago River resume its natural course into Lake Michigan. The water in the tunnels continued to rise, but more slowly.&nbsp;</p><p>By evening the water level had&nbsp;finally stabilized. Now the cleaning up and pumping out began. It would&nbsp;take weeks. A private contractor finally had to be brought in to seal the original leak at Kinzie Street.</p><p>The price tag for damaged goods, repair costs, and lost business was over $100,000,000. For insurance reasons, the April 13th water event is officially classified as a “leak.” But no matter what name is used, those who experienced it firsthand often echo the reaction of their mayor – ”What a day!”</p></p> Fri, 13 Apr 2012 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-04/great-loop-flood-97894