Chicago, IL Business House Explosion, July 1968


Chicago (UPI) -- A one story frame building that housed three businesses in downtown Chicago was leveled by an explosion Saturday night that injured more than 30 persons, overturned nearby parked cars and shattered windows and dropped ceilings in other buildings four blocks from the scene.
Asst. Deputy Police Superintendent Robert Keleher said he believed the explosion was caused from an accumulation of gas inside the building.
Twenty-five persons were treated at Presbyterian St. Lukes Hospital, and at least five were treated at Henrotin Hospital. All the injured were pedestrians, police said. It was not known if anyone was inside the demolished building that erupted in flames after it was reduced to rubble.
Shattered glass was six inches deep for two blocks on both sides of the intersection at Van Buren Street and Plymouth Court, where the building was located. Dense black smoke and the smell of gas filled the air after the explosion.
A nearby elevated commuter train platform was heavily damaged; its steel girders bent down to the street. Firemen fought a small fire on the platform, too.
The businesses housed in the building were all closed at the time of the explosion.
"There was an explosion that sounded like someone threw a bomb," said one witness. "I ran out into the street and someone hollered 'gas.' I couldn't see anything. It was just black."
Another witness, who was inside a nearby restaurant when the explosion shook the area said, "I was in the restaurant when glass started falling all over the place. I was standing at the cash register, and I just ran back and hit the floor."
More than 50 policemen patrolled the area to prevent looting.

Cedar Rapids Gazette Iowa 1968-07-21