The History

Bystanders

I saw the crowds on the boat. They did not seem to suspect any danger. As the boat started to tilt the people laughed and joked. It was only at the last that they realized that they were doomed.” -- L.E. Friedhelm

News of the Disaster spread quickly, and the streets of Chicago's downtown business district - The Loop - were jammed with enormous crowds. Most of the crowd were onlookers or curiosity seekers, but hundreds assisted as best they could.

Some people, many who had no connection to those aboard the Eastland, put their own well-being and lives at risk. Abraham Blumenthal, a young newspaper boy selling papers downtown, jumped into the river and helped rescue others. William Corbett was making laundry pickups for Munger Laundry when he stopped his truck, hopped out and began to assist. Morris Gault was downtown working at Hart, Shaffner & Marx when he left his work at the factory to help save people from drowning.

One block east, crowds gathered along the Dearborn Street bridge. Laurence Frank Northrup was the bridge-tender standing by, ready to open the bridge for the Eastland. When he saw the ship capsize, he jumped into a nearby life boat and hurried to the scene, helping haul people in. Twenty-three people owed their lives to Northrup’s presence of mind and quick action.

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