News images of Carnival Cruise Line's Costa Concordia sinking near shore off the coast of Italy bring back images of a similar horror that took place here in Chicago.
For years, nobody but geeky history buffs knew that one of the worst maritime disasters in United States history happened right off Wacker Drive, when the SS Eastland rolled over and sank.
It was July 24, 1915. Thousands of Western Electric employees were boarding a large ship anchored on the Chicago River, between LaSalle and Clark Streets, for a company picnic and a day of relaxation and fun. Their destination was Michigan City, Indiana.
The Eastland was apparently a cursed tub and not that stable, and on that fateful day, not balanced correctly through misplacement of ballast, and when the huge crowd on board rushed to wave to those still on shore, it rolled over on its side. Over 800 souls were lost, with entire families being killed.
Currently, there is a small plaque that serves as a memorial to the tragedy. It was stolen once, no doubt by that one Eastland disaster history geek that had to have it.
The Eastland Disaster Historical Society is a site dedicated to the Eastland and those who lost their lives. The EDHS has plans for a permanent memorial along the river walk. Other pages on the site detail who lost their lives, and who were saved by serendipity.
There is also an announcement about buying tickets early for the Eastland disaster musical?
A musical? I guess.
Millions have read books and watched movies about the Titanic sinking, so why not our own little epic set right here in Chicago?
As the fictional Rose says to the fictional and frozen Jack in the Titanic Move: "As a paying customer, I expect to get what I want."
A fictional Western Electric employee might say to another: "What the hell, it was a free cruise, and I got what I expected."
Eastland, the musical, opens June 06, 2012.
Wonder what Celine Dion is doing?