Pictures of Graf Zeppelin over Chicago that left the onlookers in complete awe, 1929


These vintage photographs show the airship Graf Zeppelin LZ 127 on the American leg of its voyage around the world, taking off over Chicago in August 1929. The crew lowered the plane over the city and the crowd was mesmerized by the sight.

The Chicago Daily Tribune in its August 30, 1929 edition described the event as follows: Millions of Chicagoans take to the streets as the Graf Zeppelin soars over the city to the accompaniment of the loudest roar of welcome that once went up to the sky From the metropolis of this middle continent.

The great airship was first seen in the loop at around 5:20 a.m., and it floated over the downtown area for about 18 minutes, before disappearing into the hazy eastern sky within three minutes of leaving the lakeshore.

All the buildings in the loop as well as the streets were crowded with spectators, some of whom came from towns and cities a hundred miles away. Although there was a threat of rain for much of the afternoon, the clouds parted as soon as the Zeppelin appeared.

As the large ship climbed majestically across the loop, circled the Tribune Tower, headed south toward Soldier's Field and then north again across Lincoln Park and the lake, the clouds opened and the sky cleared for a while .

When people caught their first glimpse of the zeppelin, automobile horns began to wag from the shouts of onlookers as railroad locomotives joined the roar with their steam whistles. Tug boats and large ships also played their horns on the lake and river.

Zeppelin built a giant "figure-eight" over the city, swinging north and circling the Tribune Tower before turning south to pass over Soldier Field where thousands of people cheered in the arena.

Graf Zeppelin's most famous flight was a worldwide journey covering 21,2500 miles in five legs from Lakehurst to Friedrichshafen, Friedrichshafen to Tokyo, Tokyo to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Lakehurst and then from Lakehurst to Friedrichshafen.

It was the first worldwide passenger-carrying flight and received widespread coverage in the world's press. The flight was partly sponsored by American newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, who paid about half the cost of the flight in exchange for exclusive media rights in the United States and Britain.

The Graf Zeppelin made 590 flights totaling approximately 1.7 million kilometers (over 1 million miles). It was manned by a crew of 36, and could carry 24 passengers.

When it was built it was the longest and largest airship in the world. It created the world's first waterway by airship, and the first nonstop crossing of the Pacific Ocean by air; Its range was extended by the use of Blau gas as fuel.

After several long flights between 1928 and 1932, including one to the Arctic, Graf Zeppelin provided a commercial passenger and mail service between Germany and Brazil for five years.

When the Nazi Party came to power, they used it as a propaganda tool. It was withdrawn from service after the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, and was phased out for military aircraft production in 1940.

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