In the months preceding the long-anticipated NATO summit's arrival in Chicago, some feared a repeat of the chaos and violence of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which the Second City hosted over 40 years ago.
Jill Austin, Chicago History Museum curator, described the scene:
A year of violence, war and heartbreak in the nation came to a head in the city heat, where delegates gathered and tens of thousands of people took to the streets, occupying public land and parks in demonstration, demanding to be seen and heard in a city, they cried, of injustice, and in a nation, they declared, too bloodthirsty.
The below gallery -- a selection of objects and images from the collection of the Chicago History Museum -- explores the energy and tumult of August 26-29, 1968, in Chicago, when the entire city was watching from every corner and sofa, along with the world, as tensions unfolded.
All images appear courtesy of the Chicago History Museum. Click here if you are interested in obtaining a copy of any of the museum's images included in the slideshow. Their call numbers have been included for your reference.
Broadsides like this welcomed Democrats to Chicago on behalf of Mayor Richard J. Daley. The Democratic National Convention was a boon to his administration, and he was determined to ensure its success. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-37012.
Members of activist organizations such as the Youth International Party (Yippies) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), however, took issue with Chicago as a city, led by Daley, rife with poverty, crime and segregation. The SDS distributed this alternate broadside critiquing Daley and Chicago, and the lack of interest in representing anti-Vietnam War voices during the DNC. Such groups attempted a peaceful gathering called the Festival of Life in Lincoln Park, north of the Loop, prior to the start of the convention. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-26339.
Young demonstrators in Grant Park sent a message of non-violence to the National Guard, which was called in to control people occupying the parks and streets. Photograph by Charles Roland. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-62714.
Members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference took its Poor People's Campaign around the country in the months after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Their wagon train got caught in the turmoil on Michigan Avenue near Grant Park. Photograph by Charles Roland. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-62715.
A privileged view from the 27th floor of the Hilton, showing the line of National Guardsmen that divided demonstrators from passing traffic, August 28. Photograph by Peter Bullock. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-59480.
This aerial view outside the Conrad Hilton Hotel at Michigan and Balbo Avenues captured the groundswell of resistance of nearly 7,000 people, matched by some 6,000 officers and close to 18,000 National Guardsmen, August 28. Photograph by Declan Haun. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-40032.
Demonstrators in Grant Park used everyday objects to protect themselves against the brunt of force and sting of tear gas, August 28. Photograph by Declan Haun. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-40031.
Activist Mary Travers of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, stood with a young Julian Bond, the civil rights activist who helped organize the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and who was then a representative of the Georgia State Assembly. Photograph by Peter Bullock. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-65717.
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota spoke to supporters in Grant Park outside the Hilton, his campaign headquarters. The hotel thus became the main site of demonstrations. McCarthy supported the withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam and was a popular candidate of young people and anti-war activists. He lost the nomination to Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Photograph by Peter Bullock. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-65718.
Many photographers captured this dramatic shot of young people overtaking the General John Logan Monument in Grant Park and brandishing a Vietcong flag from it, August 26. Photograph by Peter Bullock. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-50772.
The whole world was, indeed, watching, as the saying goes, because the conflicts of August 1968 were televised. Here, NBC camera crews recorded the battle lines between protestors and the authorities as they continued to enforced into the night. Photograph by Peter Bullock. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-65713.
This is an actual riot helmet worn by Chicago Police Department Officer Max Ziegler during the events of August 1968, and is currently on display in the exhibition Chicago: Crossroads of America. Chicago History Museum Collection, ICHi-65719.