Eastland: Chicago's Deadliest Day

Eastland: Chicago's Deadliest Day


EASTLAND: CHICAGO’S DEADLIEST DAY is the dramatic story of how hundreds of immigrant factory workers and their families, setting out for leisurely summer cruise, died aboard a heavily loaded steamship that tipped over while still tied to the dock in downtown Chicago…. ...and how the rich and powerful who were responsible got away with it. First-generation relatives of victims recount how the tragedy affected their families for decades while original court documents dug out of the National Archives reveal that the Eastland’s owners knew of the ship’s stability problems months before the disaster yet rolled the dice as innocent immigrant passengers boarded on July 24, 1915 for a Western Electric company picnic. “There was no iceberg, no torpedo, no act of God—someone surely did something wrong,” says Michael McCarthy, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who spent 10 years researching his book on the Eastland disaster, Ashes under Water. McCarthy is one of more than 30 historians, authors and relatives interviewed for this detailed investigation at how a summer day’s excursion turned into disaster, decimated Chicago neighborhoods, and allowed the well-connected owners to walk free. EASTLAND includes extremely rare film footage of the disaster’s immediate aftermath unearthed from European film libraries as well as historic interviews with passengers who survived the Eastland’s horrific sideways tumble into the polluted Chicago River. State-of-the-art computer graphics demonstrate how the unstable steamer dramatically see-sawed back and forth before rolling over, killing 844, mostly women and children, in a matter of minutes.

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