On Friday, July 24, dozens of people will gather along the Chicago Riverwalk on the west side of Clark Street. Descendants of survivors, victims, and heroes will be present to share their families’ stories.
The commemoration ceremony of the 105th anniversary of the Eastland Disaster will be hosted by the Eastland Disaster Historical Society (EDHS), now a part of the Chicago Genealogical Society (CGS). The public ceremony will take place at 12 noon along the Riverwalk between Clark and LaSalle Streets, which is the exact site of the tragedy. The ceremony will conclude with white rose petals being laid into the Chicago River by those who have gathered.
We ask you to follow the current Chicago Department of Public Health guidelines regarding COVID-19 if you attend this outdoor event. If you are not able to personally attend, the event will be streamed Live through Facebook, at both the EDHS and CGS Facebook pages.
105 years ago on July 24, 1915, the S.S. Eastland – a ship known for its speed yet also its instability – was docked and ready to embark on its chartered excursion. However, the Eastland never departed as it capsized, killing 844 people in the process. With more passenger fatalities than the Titanic, the capsizing of the Eastland was unprecedented in maritime annals: Had such a possibility been suggested by anyone prior to its occurrence, it would have been dismissed as an impossibility. Here was a great steel vessel built to stand rough weather on the Great Lakes that simply rolled over onto its side in the tranquil waters of the Chicago River while still partially tied to the wharf. While the odds of such an unprecedented occurrence were staggering, the haunting question that will never be sufficiently answered is whether the tragedy could have been prevented.