In 1915, Chicago experienced its worst disaster since the Chicago Fire when the S.S. Eastland capsized — and it remains the city’s deadliest event in history. More than 800 people perished when the massive tour ship tipped in the Chicago River between Clark and LaSalle streets. The ship was docked at the Clark Street bridge, gathering up employees of Western Electric to ferry them to the company’s annual picnic down Lake Michigan to Michigan City, Ind. More than 2,500 people were on board the ship when it rolled over into the river, trapping and eventually drowning 844 people, including 22 whole families.
Long behind us, the tragedy is no less horrific. A new app, Chicago00 (named for the city’s zero point at State and Madison) recounts the tragedy through the magic of augmented reality. Filmmaker Geoffrey Alan Rhodes, in conjunction with the Chicago History Museum, created the site-specific multimedia experience to allow people to get up close and personal with the disaster — at the site where it happened: along the Chicago Riverwalk. Chicago00 comprises more than 70 captioned historical photos and newsreel films depicting the disaster and its relief effort. The app is available for Apple and Android phones.