Forest Home Cemetery is located just a few blocks south of the Forest Park station on the Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line "L" route. Both serve as the last stop, the latter for subway cars and the former for people. This is the cemetery where many left-leaning folks are buried. Its most famous monument commemorates four Haymarket Riot martyrs who were hanged on November 11, 1887, as well as three people who were jailed and subsequently pardoned, and one who died under suspicious circumstances the night before he was to be hanged.
In 1997, sculptor Albert Weiner's Haymarket Riot Monument was listed by the National Park Service on the Department of Interior's list of Historic Landmarks, and for good reason. Chicago is one of the birthplaces of the modern organized labor movement in the United States. In early May of 1886 a series of labor demonstrations took place throughout the country in support of the eight-hour workday. Although federal law had already enshrined the concept, the federal government was unwilling to enforce it--sound familiar? Illinois employers also required workers to waive the right.
On May 4, a demonstration occurred around the corner from Haymarket Square, which is located in what is now the Fulton Street District on Randolph Street between Halsted and Des Plaines. Somewhere between 800 and 1,000 people attended. As the police arrived on the scene, someone threw a dynamite bomb, and the police then opened fire. Four demonstrators and seven police officers were killed. Most likely, the police officers who died were felled by friendly fire.
The next day, martial law was declared in Chicago and in other cities around the country. The authorities rounded up eight members of the labor movement to stand trial for murder. Their trial took place over a two-month period, leading to their convictions on August 20, 1886. Notably, Joseph Medill's Chicago Tribune offered the jury money if they returned guilty verdicts. Medill is the namesake of Northwestern University's School of Journalism.
On November 11, 1887, four of those convicted died at the end of a rope --August Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer and George Engel. From the gallows, Spies yelled. "The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today." His last words are inscribed on the base of the Haymarket Memorial Monument, but without the "s" at the end of "voice."
A fifth defendant, Louis Lingg, allegedly committed suicide the night before, although the circumstances are suspicious. Following an in-person appeal by Samuel Gompers, then-Governor Richard J. Oglesby commuted three other death sentences to life in prison. One other defendant was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Those defendants received a full pardon in June 1893 by then-Governor John P. Altgeld. In his pardon statement, the Governor indicated that the jury had not been drawn by lot, as was customary, but had been handpicked by Henry L. Ryce, a special bailiff. The statement also recounts testimony by several jurors that they were prejudiced from the outset against the defendants. The Governor's statement also notes that the State never discovered who threw the bomb, and that there was no evidence connecting the defendants to the bomb.
The monument has becomes a gathering site for organized labor on special occasions, and it was a focal point of demonstrations during the Vietnam era.
Just a few yards in back of the Haymarket Memorial Monument sits Emma Goldman's grave, together with grave stones for others who were involved in radical social movements. Goldman lived in Europe at the time of the Haymarket Riot. She arrived in the United States in 1890 from her native Lithuania. She had a close association with Alexander Berkman, who was jailed for his attempt to assassinate Henry Clay Frick, the industrialist who left us with a fabulous art collection housed in the Frick Museum in New York City. Goldman, who was an anarchist, was arrested in 1893 for inciting a riot in New York City. She was jailed in 1916 for advocating birth control. She was jailed again for opposing the draft that was instituted during World War I.
Following the war, "Red Emma" and Birkman were deported to Russia. At the time of her death, Goldman was opposing fascists in the Spanish Civil War. Despite being deported, her gravestone is a prominent one in Forest Home Cemetery.
One of Several Buried Close to Emma Goldman
Burial Site of Emma Goldman, a Leading Turn-of-the-20th-Century Radical and Anarchist
Obviously others are buried in this largely flat cemetery. Burial sections are devoted to young children, Hispanics, and Roma, among others. The Des Plaines River bisects the cemetery. The Eisenhower Expressway runs adjacent to the cemetery's north border. I found the space to be uninspirational, but that may have been due to the absence of foliage and the bright, flat light. There were few shadows and little mystery. I did appreciate the irony of the billboards on the other side of the expressway advertising solid mattresses and the Illinois lottery: Those buried in the cemetery already lie in a firm bed, and unfortunately their luck has run out. I spent considerable time trying to incorporate the signage into my photographs. Unfortunately, the portion of the cemetery that runs adjacent to the Eisenhower is sparsely populated, so the connection did not pop out in the photographs. A nice try at classic street photography among the dead.
One "sign" that struck me as particularly optimistic was the helium balloon that was tied to one grave marker. The balloon's inscription read, "Get Well Soon." Hmm.
Jesus and Two Helpers Stand Watch
Photographer's Note: Before photographing anything architectural, take a close look. In processing my photographs of the Haymarket Memorial Monument, I went a bit crazy. Although my camera was on a tripod with levels and I had positioned the lens plane at 90 degrees to the monument's surface, all of my photographs portrayed a monument with converging lines. The monument looked like it was about to tip backwards. I then looked at a series of photograph that incorporated two- rather than one-point perspective. From a close distance, as the monument moves toward its peak, the column tapers, an effect more distracting in one-point perspective.