Cicero to commemorate Centenary of Eastland disaster

Disaster that took hundreds of Cicero lives to be commemorated Thursday July 23

Eastland disaster, the Kenosha, a tugboat, res...

Eastland disaster, the Kenosha, a tugboat, rescuing survivors from the hull of the overturned steamer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

100 years ago on July 24, 1915, 844 people died on the Eastland, a boat on the Chicago River that capsized after boarding on Clark Street. There were 2,500 passengers aboard the boat all employed by the Western Electric Company which chartered the Eastland and four other boats to take employees to Michigan City, Indiana for a family day to be highlighted by picnics, food, parades and sporting events. The boat boarded along the Chicago River and then was to head out into Lake Michigan to cross over to Michigan.

Witnesses who watched the boat launch were shocked when they saw it begin ti tip over on its side. It was one of the worst boating disaster’s in American history. Many of the 844 who perished were children. More than 200 of the killed lived in Cicero. George Halas, a founder of the National Football League and later coach of the Chicago Bears, was a summer employee at the time at Western Electric.

The Town of Cicero will commemorate the centennial of this tragedy on Thursday July 23 at the Cicero Community Center at 11 am. If you are a relative or family friend of any of the fatalities or passengers who survived, we hope you will attend this commemoration event. Contact Cynthia at 708-656-3600 ext 288.

For more information on the Eastland, you can visit the Eastland Historical Society online by clicking here.