Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Eastland Tragedy and Harpo Studios, Part ll

Today a memorial plaque marks the spot where the Eastland tragedy on the Chicago River, between Clark and LaSalle Streets occurred. In Part 1 of this post, a description of how this tragedy unfolded is shared.

Clark Street Bridge
Photo: Nathan Holth
To this day, witnesses claim to hear moans and blood-curling screams from the Clark Street Bridge.

Over 3,000 employees of the Western Electric Company boarded the steamship, The Eastland, on July 23, 1915, to travel to Michigan City, Indiana, for a company-sponsored picnic.

Shortly after leaving the dock at Clark Street, the Eastland steamship, which was top-heavy, fell onto its port side. Over 800 passengers were trapped and drowned within a short period.

Survivors standing on the side of Eastland steamship.
The deceased victims were taken to the 2nd Regiment Armory, which had been turned into a makeshift morgue, to handle the large number of corpses.

Oprah Winfrey bought this armory located on Chicago’s West Loop, in the 1980s. She had the 4-building 3 and half-acre space renovated into studio space.

From 1990 until 2011, she filmed the Oprah Winfrey Show at Harpo Studios. In 2014 she sold the property but leased it for another 2 years for productions connected to her OWN cable channel.

Harpo Studios
During the time her talk show was filmed, she and her staff and crew, came to believe that several of the victims of the 1915 Eastland tragedy haunted the studios. *

* Today she does not speak about this haunting.

At one time this ghostly activity inspired her to produce an entire show about the haunting.

It is said that she would not go into the studio alone at night. She and her employees experienced unexplained sounds throughout the buildings.

They heard mournful relatives crying as they collected their dead relatives, as well as giggling children running up and down the hallways. Whispers and footsteps were heard. Old-time music and glasses clinking together were also heard.

Doors would suddenly open and close, and small items were moved about. 

A shadow figure dubbed “The Grey Lady” was often seen moving throughout the studio. Her image was captured on a security camera. She is seen wearing early 20th century clothing, with a big hat.

One restroom was always kept locked because so many people heard disembodied crying behind its door.

Several witnesses also claim there is an angry male spirit upstairs.

Note: This studio was demolished recently.

In Part l of The Eastland Tragedy and Harpo Studios, one of America’s worst maritime disasters is recounted.

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