Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster
Date: July 16, 2012 04:21PM
I'm new to the forum, and I'm enjoying my exploration of the stories.
At cursory glance, I was surprised that there was no posting for "The Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster" of May 25, 1950. Here goes:
The accident occurred near the end of rush hour. It had rained hard earlier in the day, and several viaducts around the city were flooded. Southbound streetcar traffic along State St. had been diverted all afternoon near the intersection of 63rd and State.
A little after 6:30 p.m., a "Green Hornet" streetcar loaded nearly to capacity with rush hour passengers, went through an open switch at an excessive speed in spite of a flagger who was signalling wildly. The streetcar entered the switch and collided with a northbound gasoline truck which was hauling 8,000 gallons of fuel.
The initial explosion was caused when the streetcar flattened the gas truck's own supply tank, located beneath the driver's side door. The first of two tanks being hauled by the truck was damaged when the truck jacknifed on impact and the semi-trailer became unhitched.
The first explosion blew through the streetcar's shattered windshield and caused a stampede toward the rear. Gas flowing from the damaged first tank ignited, and prevented exit from the front doors.
A few passengers managed to get out through the center and rear doors. Eventually, panic in the rear of the car caused passengers to crush against the rear doors, forcing them shut. Most who escaped got out through two rear windows which were shattered.
It was over in less than five minutes. Thirty-three people, including the drivers of both vehicles, were killed. Another 50 people were injured. Seven buildings located on the east side of State Street caught fire, and five were completely destroyed.
"The Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster" is one of those Chicago stories that has slipped under the radar of the average Chicagoan for more than six decades. I have written a book, entitled "The Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster" which was released in May. It's the first stand-alone account of the accident, and I hope those who are interested might check it out.
In the meantime, I'd like to hear from people old enough to remember the accident, and well as those who, like me, heard it told secondhand from an older friend or family member.
Looking forward to the conversation.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/2012 11:34AM by chicagophile.