As part of Prague Days Chicago, artist Viktor Valášek created a mural on 16th Street just west of Carpenter in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood in remembrance of the Eastland disaster.
On July 24, 1915, more than eight hundred people perished on the Chicago River during one of the worst maritime catastrophes of all times—the Eastland disaster. Most of the casualties, approximately a quarter of whom were of Czech descent, were working-class immigrants living in nearby neighborhoods on Chicago’s West Side. No one was held accountable for this tragedy despite allegations that the owners’ greed led to unsafe conditions on the Eastland.
This mural is a silent commemoration of the many Eastland victims and their families.
Using muted colors with spray paint, the artist was able to express how he feels about the disaster. The blurry edges may resemble the ghosts of the victims, although he did not intend to make it entirely clear whether we are looking at the actual passengers prior to boarding or rather at the mourning survivors.
References to both social realism and street art can be found in the visual impact of this mural.