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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

Pilsen Mural Memorializing Victims Of The Eastland Disaster Defaced With Graffiti

The Eastland mural, in remembrance of the Czech immigrants who perished on the Chicago River in 1915, isn't the first mural to be targeted with graffiti on 16th Street.

The Eastland mural in Pilsen was defaced with graffiti.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago; Emysal Rose Martinez
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PILSEN —  A 16th Street mural in Pilsen commemorating the Eastland disaster was recently defaced with graffiti.

Large bubble letters were spray painted over the mural at 16th and Carpenter streets, which memorializes the more than 800 people who died when the Eastland capsized on the Chicago River in 1915.

Painted by Viktor Valášek for Prague Days Chicago in 2015, the mural is in remembrance of the mostly Czech immigrants who perished in the catastrophe.

“This mural is a silent commemoration of the many Eastland victims and their families,” Valášek wrote on his website.

The artist used muted colors “to express how I feel about the disaster” and the figures could be interpreted as ghosts of those who died or mourning survivors.

Credit: Emysal Rose Martinez
What the Eastland mural looked like.
Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Someone spray painted over the Eastland mural.

Valášek could not be immediately reached for comment.

Pilsen resident Peter Zan noticed the mural had been painted over last week and said he was disappointed by the defacing. Zan posted the photo on Facebook and other neighbors expressed frustration.

“Horrible. That one was my favorite,” one commenter wrote.

“This is so sad,” another wrote.

The Eastland mural was among many murals targeted on 16th Street, Zan said.

Last summer, the Virgin Mary mural located just west of the Eastland mural was defaced with graffiti. Following community outrage, muralist Oscar Romero, the artist behind the original mural, restored the painting

The Eastland disaster played out on the river between LaSalle and Clark streets, now home to the Riverwalk.

On their way to a picnic in Michigan City, more than 2,500 Western Electric Company employees boarded the Eastland steamship, which toppled before leaving the dock.

Last week, WTTW aired a new documentary on the tragedy produced by Harvey Moshman and Chuck Coppola.

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