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Mark The Anniversary Of The Eastland Disaster—On A River Cruise

By Jim Bochnowski in News on Jul 22, 2015 10:20PM


One hundred years ago, the SS Eastland sank in the Chicago River, killing 844. The Eastland Disaster Historical Society is celebrating the anniversary with—naturally—a boat cruise.

Some background on the tragedy: On July 24, 1915, 2,500 employees of Western Electric and their families boarded the SS Eastland for an excursion from Chicago to Michigan City for a day of "fun and fellowship," as the Historical Society describes it. As the ship was docked at the Clark Street Bridge, it unexpectedly sank and almost a third of those onboard died, with 22 entire families perishing. Footage of the sinking was recently uncovered.

So what better way to celebrate the anniversary of an avoidable disaster than getting on a boat and drinking? In an invitation that feels a little too cheerful in context, the historical society invites you to "JOIN US THIS SUMMER as EDHS hosts the 100th anniversary commemoration of Chicago's greatest loss-of-life tragedy."

For the price of $60 for non-members of the historical society and $35 for children aged 4 through 11, this Saturday you can get on a cruise provided by Wendella Boats and take the exact ride that the Eastland would have taken 100 years ago if it had not, you know, sank. Luckily, the Historical Society stresses that this time around, "Your safety and security is of paramount importance to EDHS and Wendella."

On Friday, the historical society will also host a public commemoration of the tragedy 100 years ago along the Riverwalk. The weekend will also feature numerous events involving families directly impacted by the tragedy 100 years ago.

Chicago, of course, is already well-known to have some fun on the river with the big, horrible disasters from the previous century: Just look at the Great Chicago Fire Festival.