May 6, 1903. Early that fatal morning, approximately 2500 people overcrowded the SS Eastland, to take the Western Electric Hawthorn Works Cicero Plant annual summer cruise to Michigan City, Indiana. As the ship listed from port to starboard a few times, the crowd wondered how safe it was. When it turned on its side, while still tied to the dock in the Chicago River, people were thrown into the water and trapped inside, resulting in 844 deaths, including 22 entire families.
The Eastland Disaster remains the most devastating shipwreck of the Great Lakes.