The Chicago Labor Trail was brought to the attention of millions of people who had never heard of it with the release of “The Labor Trail: Chicago’s History of Working-Class Life and Struggle” Although known as a thriving city, The Windy City was once home to many occurrences that would never go over so well in modern times. It was a life of struggle. A life of trying to survive as a blue-collar family. It’s surprising that more hasn’t been written or more shows and documentaries haven’t been produced to show just how tough things once were and how no matter how bad things may seem today, that they probably nowhere near as bad as they could be.
The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies took a step in the right in direction when they developed the interactive Labor Trail made available online. Of course, they were only able to do so thanks to to the Illinois Humanities Council giving them a grant to help them do so. It includes interactive map of over 100 locations that were significant during the time, outlining the migration of the working-class citizens of the time. This is a rich history that everyone should at least know about somewhat, and we’re not just talking about those who call Chicago home either.
For those who wish to dive deeper into the intriguing history and heritage of Chicago, they can easily do so from the map. They developed it so that each and every location leads to even more intricate details about that point in time, that incident, that struggle. If someone knows something that’s not included, they can also add to the map so that others can learn and that it’s a constantly growing source of the city’s history and struggles. A place that will forever be there so that it’s not forgotten.
Battle of the Viaduct
At 16th and Halsted, there sits vacant concrete walls that seem innocent enough. To look at it, you’d never think that one day many years ago there was massive bloodshed in a gruesome battle that took place. A battle that should never have become what it did; one that was simply for the rights of the workers.
In 1877 railroad workers came together to form a strike that took place in the form of a rally and a little march. It became known as the Great Uprising of 1877. Police, along with not so civil mercenaries, intervened at the meeting where there were German workers (who were immigrants) at Turner Hall on Halsted and Roosevelt. By the end of the day, 30 of the workers had been slain.
Luckily this horrid story that took place in Chicago’s rigid and rich history has not been forgotten. People rally in remembrance of the Battle of the Viaduct to this day. To imagine seeing something like this happen modern day time is pretty hard to do. It just couldn’t happen as easily with the major news and technological advances we have. Or could it?
It’s important that our young people today understand the struggles that generations before have faced. It’s important so they can appreciate what we have today and so if times ever did take a turn for the worse, they won’t be completely blindsided. They need to study it and know the best ways to eradicate such a situation and/or how to stay safe. The Chicago Labor Trail has and will always continue to be a standing mark in history for Chicago. Please visit and support often!