WBEZ | Eastland Disaster http://www.wbez.org/tags/eastland-disaster Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: July 20, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-20/morning-shift-july-20-2015-112428 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/215539596&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">A shooting over the weekend breaks two weekends without shootings for Chicago&#39;s Englewood. We talk with members of a group called Mothers Against Senseless Killings, who have been patrolling some of the hot-spots in Englewood. We&rsquo;ll also learn more about a pretty sizable mobile sculpture that&rsquo;s emblazoned with the names of kids and teenagers killed by gun violence. Plus, we examine what Chicago needs to do to draw Chinese businesses and investors. And we take a look back at the Eastland disaster, which claimed the lives of more than 800 people 100 years ago Friday.</span></p></p> Mon, 20 Jul 2015 11:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-20/morning-shift-july-20-2015-112428 Eastland disaster, 100 years later http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-20/eastland-disaster-100-years-later-112424 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Eastland vxla.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/215536968&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">It was going to be a fun filled day off in Michigan City, Indiana for thousands of workers of the former Western Electric Hawthorne Works Plant in Cicero. An annual summer employee picnic had been gaining in popularity since 1900 and in 1915 the number of people who wanted to attend swelled to 7,000, so more ships were needed to ferry passengers to the site. One of the steamers was the SS Eastland, also known as the Speed Queen of the Great Lakes. More than 2,500 passengers boarded her in the early morning of July 24...but tragically the ship never made it to its destination. In fact...it barely left the harbor before capsizing. More than 800 people died. We remember the disaster with Russell Lewis, Executive Vice President and chief historian of The Chicago History Museum.</span></p></p> Mon, 20 Jul 2015 10:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-20/eastland-disaster-100-years-later-112424 Student unearths footage of Chicago's deadliest disaster http://www.wbez.org/news/student-unearths-footage-chicagos-deadliest-disaster-111525 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/eastland.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Nearly 100 years ago, the SS Eastland capsized in the Chicago River, killing 844 people. The boat, known as the Speed Queen of the Great Lakes, was part of a fleet of excursion boats. The boats took employees from Western Electric across Lake Michigan to Michigan City, Indiana.</p><p>But the Eastland rolled over into the Chicago River. More than 2,500 people were on board that day.</p><p>A Chicago grad student named Jeff Nichols was working on his dissertation on Chicago during World War I when he came across an archive of digitized European films and <a href="http://www.eastlanddisaster.org/news/First-Known-Archived-Film-Footage-of-the-Eastland-Disaster-Located" target="_blank">unearthed the news footage from the Eastland Disaster</a>.</p><p>Nichols says he proclaimed, &ldquo;Holy Cow,&rdquo; when he recognized the south bank of the Chicago River around Clark and LaSalle streets. He could see the dock in the background of news footage.</p><p>In the film, first responders are pulling survivors out of the overturned boat.</p><p>A historical society dedicated to the disaster has been looking for footage since it was founded 17 years ago. <span id="_oneup" style="font-size: 15px;">A collections manager with a Dutch film institute confirmed in an email sent to The Associated Press that the footage is in the institute&#39;s archives.</span></p></p> Mon, 09 Feb 2015 15:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/student-unearths-footage-chicagos-deadliest-disaster-111525 The Eastland Disaster: The Musical! http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-06/eastland-disaster-musical-100231 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3801621382_cf8f6dbc2f_z.jpg" style="float: right; width: 300px; height: 400px; " title="The Eastland Disaster Commemorative sign along the Chicago River. (Flickr/Sonny Cohen)" />The <em>Eastland</em> Disaster: All Chicagoans of a certain age (ahem, such as myself) grew up hearing about it from parents or grandparents; how, on July 24, 1915, a Lake Michigan cruise ship, overloaded with 2500 &mdash; plus passengers, tipped over while still docked in the Chicago River, killing 844 people in just 20 feet of water. Most of the dead were trapped in cabins below-decks, either drowned or crushed to death by tumbling furniture including a piano. Chicago hardly had recovered from the December 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire in which 602 people were burned, smothered or crushed to death and now, the <em>Eastland</em>.</p><p>Universally, the world still was reacting to the sinking of the <em>Titanic</em> just three years earlier. Parallels were drawn both then and now between the two maritime disasters, but they have few similarities beyond the tremendous loss of life. The <em>Titanic</em> was a 900 foot luxury vessel lost in a vast ocean on its maiden voyage, while the <em>Eastland</em> was a 265-foot lake steamer with a decade of service, docked in a modest river.</p><p>But the biggest differences are the great and ironic hubris attached to the <em>Titanic</em>, declared unsinkable, and the class struggle represented by the wealth and fame of its First Class passengers vs. the nameless immigrants in steerage. The <em>Eastland</em> had no such hubris, especially on that July day when the vast majority of its passengers were working-class employees of the enormous Western Electric works (manufacturers of all Bell Telephone equipment) and their families, on an annual company-paid holiday. The <em>Titanic</em> was glamorous, the <em>Eastland</em> was not.</p><p>It&#39;s easy to create a dramatic work about the <em>Titanic</em> with its inherent themes of mankind vs. nature or god, rich vs. poor and the choices made by passengers and crew &mdash; noble or not &mdash; in the three hours it took the ship to sink. For decades, too, there was the unreachable and unknowable wreck lying 12,000 feet under the sea. There have been at least four major motion pictures about the <em>Titanic</em>, scores of books, several plays and a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical.</p><p>The <em>Eastland</em> Disaster commands none of that, as it was instantaneous and absurd, providing no time for personal drama or choices, and offering no inherent themes other than, &quot;Why, God, why?&quot; for the theologically inclined. People died because they arrived early and went below to escape the chill morning air. People lived because, like football great George Halas, they arrived late and were caught in traffic on LaSalle Street. The ship wasn&#39;t even lost: within weeks it was righted, refurbished and renamed (the <em>Wilmette</em>) and saw another 30 years of service as a training vessel at the Great Lakes Naval Base. There are a couple of books about the <em>Eastland</em>, a Chicago-based <em>Eastland</em> Disaster memorial society and now &mdash; 97 years after the event &mdash; a musical, created by the Lookingglass Theatre.</p><p>So, what kind of musical do you make out of the <em>Eastland</em> Disaster? The answer, for author Andrew White and composers Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman, is a blue-collar musical; a show as unglamorous and modest and accessible as the folks who boarded and died on her.</p><p>What does that mean? For starters, don&#39;t expect a Broadway-style show with production numbers and big solo songs; they&#39;re not here. Also, don&#39;t look for a lot of precise details of the what, when, where and why variety. If you want to know that the <em>Eastland</em> was docked at Clark Street, or was one of three steamers going out that day with Western Electric employees, or was known as the Speed Queen of the Great Lakes, you&#39;ll have to Google the &quot;Eastland Disaster&quot; for such things are not the concern of <em>Eastland</em>, the world premiere musical.</p><p>Indeed, with the exception of Mara Blumenfeld&#39;s costumes in full shirtwaist/Gibson Girl mode, there&#39;s nothing about the physical production that says &quot;1915.&quot; The same holds true for the score by Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman, which is broadly folkloric and Appalachian in flavor. Most of the show is underscored by acoustic string instruments and piano, and the tunes don&#39;t stop to allow for applause. The contrapuntal and chorale writing is quite amazing in the few numbers (not specifically named in the program) where it reaches full flower, such as the chorus &quot;Only the river remains.&quot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The result &mdash; and clearly the intent &mdash; is an ethereal work which frequently is moving and haunting but rarely exciting. You may leave with musical impressions but you won&#39;t hum a tune. You certainly will remember the poor boy whose body lay unclaimed for weeks, or &quot;the human frog&quot; who held his breath like Houdini to dive again and again for the quick and the dead, but you won&#39;t leave with much understanding of the event itself. Lacking the obvious themes of the<em> Titanic</em> catastrophe, there is little to understand beyond the frequently-arbitrary and unfair falling out of life.</p><p>Author White instead wants <em>Eastland</em> to reflect the connections of the blue-collar, immigrant communities of which most Western Electric employees were members. His focus is on a few real people, a few fictional ones, and the patterns of love, loss, longing and family which the disaster interrupted. In director Amanda Dehnert&#39;s effectively shadowy staging, people float before you and drift in and out of Christine A. Binder&#39;s pools of light, sometimes suspended in air (as if in water), with dripping-wet clothing hauled out of iron washtubs to represent the dead, and with the audience seated in church pews within a Chautauqua tent.</p><p><em>Eastland</em> wishes to be an elegy and not an exclamation point, an ache rather than a terrible wound, and at this it is highly successful. It continues at <a href="http://lookingglasstheatre.org/content/box_office/eastland">Lookingglass Theatre in the Water Tower Pumping Station through July 29</a>.</p></p> Tue, 19 Jun 2012 13:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-06/eastland-disaster-musical-100231