The largely forgotten disaster of the SS Eastland

Originally published at: The largely forgotten disaster of the SS Eastland | Boing Boing


See also: the 1904 General Slocum disaster in NY’s East River on the way to a church picnic. An estimated 1021 of the 1342 people onboard died.

I also recommend listening to the Futility Closet episode on it, but of course it’s quite sad, especially the firsthand witness accounts of kids perishing.


In my nautical mechanics class at school [military] this was generally held up as a completely avoidable, when money verses the passenger/sailor safety are on the line, money wins every time.


Isn’t that the base theory of capitalism?!


Holy Fudge! That’s shocking!

As long as you can get the passengers to pay before boarding, it is profit all the way. :cry:


The General Slocum disaster sure demonstrated that pretty well with the downright evil deception in the manufacturing of the life preservers, which turned out to be worse than useless:


Interestingly, the Titanic at the time was not treated as such a huge cultural phenomenon. Yes it made the news and the US and UK investigated the accident to see if it could be prevented next time, but it wasn’t a massive thing like it is now. Around that time about a dozen other ships also went down with the same or larger loss of life. It was a thing that happened fairly regularly with big ships in those days. Nobody really talked about it at the time, and then a little thing called The Great War happened and the Titanic would have been forgotten forever. Except…

Modern obsession with the Titanic started with a book and teleplay (live TV stage production) called A Night To Remember in 1955. This one authour, Walter Lord, got interested in the story (he was a shipwreck buff) and wrote a dramatic account of it in a very personal, theatrical way that resonated with people. The book was a bestseller, then the teleplay reached a huge audience (basically everyone with a TV because there was nothing else on in those days) and the legend/mythos/phenomenon was born.


In less tragic historical news…


Re the Slocum - the worst disaster in NYC history up to 9/11.


@garethb2, thanks so much for posting this! I was shocked when this got taken down, as it’s nothing BUT educational content! But being on the frontpage will push up page views for this video!

I also want to point out that Jessie Gender also had a video taken down…

And there is a long video I have not watched yet on this…

I wonder if something is happening behind the scenes at youtube?


A similar, if smaller, disaster happened in 1881 in London, Ontario when the overcrowded steamship SS Victoria overturned and sank. About 200 passengers died, mostly locals, out of a population of 19,000.


All in all, more than 1500 died on the Titanic. Of course, if you don’t count crew members…

Unlike the sinking of the Mariposa Belle , published in the same year.

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This sounds like what would have inspired Bob Dylan’s Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues, but apparently not.

“Stookey gave Dylan a clipping from the New York Herald Tribune of June 19, 1961, thinking that it might provide material for a song. The news story related how a Harlem social club had hired a boat, the Hudson Belle, for a Father’s Day picnic trip to Bear Mountain State Park, but after numerous forged tickets had been sold and the boat arrived late, more than twenty people were injured in a fracas.”

since in theory jack died because he couldn’t get onto that door - and no one had yet invented floating on your back - ( though, truth be told i’m still holding out for a sequel ) did he die “on” the titanic?

it’s all very confusing :thinking:

Michael Burstein got a Hugo nomination for his Time Ablaze about this disaster. Part of the narrative is how it’s been so thoroughly forgotten. Fictionwise(!) gave away free samples of the nominees that year for people to read on Palm Pilots(!!), which I converted to pdf at some point:

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