For my next story in WBEZ’s “Curious City” project, I will be answering this question, which was posed by a Naperville resident named Sabina:
"How did the Haymarket Square Massacre affect Chicago’s culture at the time?"
That’s a big topic, but I’ll be talking with some of the historians and authors who have delved into Haymarket’s history to see what they think about the deadly incident’s repercussions in Chicago’s culture.
Here’s how the Chicago History Museum’s Haymarket Affair Digital Collection website begins its description of the famous events that shook the city in 1886:
What has come to be known as the Haymarket Affair began on May 3, 1886, when Chicago police fired into a crowd of striking workers at the McCormick Reaper Works, killing and wounding several men. The following evening, anarchist and socialist labor leaders organized a meeting of workingmen near Chicago’s Haymarket Square. Speakers at the meeting denounced the police attack of the previous afternoon and urged workers to intensify their struggle for an eight-hour workday and other improvements in labor conditions.
Just as the meeting was breaking up, the police, led by Captain William Ward and Inspector John Bonfield, arrived on the scene and attempted to disperse the crowd. During this effort, someone threw a dynamite bomb into the ranks of the police, killing one officer outright and injuring others. A melee ensued, the police, and probably others in the crowd, fired shots. Seven police officers were killed or mortally wounded, and one died of his wounds several years later. How many casualties the workers sustained that evening is not known, as those who fell were quickly dragged to safety or to medical attention by their comrades.
The Chicago Historical Society and Northwestern University also have a website called "The Dramas of Haymarket," which will guide you through the events.
The illustration at the top of this post is a famous (and somewhat fanciful) drawing from Harper’s Weekly depicting the riot.