Click on the images in the bottom row to see five different depictions of the Haymarket explosion.

The first image, from the Harper's Weekly of May 15, 1886, shows Samuel Fielden haranguing the crowd in front of the Crane Brothers factory as the riot breaks out. It is the work of Thure de Thulstrop, one of the magazine's most prolific illustrators. The second, from the Chicago-based Graphic News of the same date (these newsmagazines were commonly issued on Saturdays), is from a point on Randolph Street some distance from the speaker's wagon. The vantage is looking north and east toward the explosion and the Crane Brothers factory on Desplaines Street from a point slightly above the fleeing crowd. The third, which appeared on May 22 in Harper's Weekly, is by Thomas Nast; it portrays the officers as startled but stalwart. They stand between the bomb and an American flag, implying that they are acting in defense of the nation against this terrifying assault.

The fourth and fifth images are photographs, dated 1887, of two of a series of Haymarket paintings by Paul J. Morand. The series includes the painting featured in the "A Peaceable Meeting" entry in this section. The viewpoint in the first of the Morand paintings here is also from behind the speakers' wagon, looking southwest down Desplaines Street toward Randolph. In this scene, however, it is now a few moments after the explosion, and the riot has broken out.

In the final image the shrapnel and dust from the bomb are gone, and what looks like a full-scale gunfight between police and the mob is in progress.

Because of several factors—the stunning and chaotic nature of the event, the fact that no illustrator was on the scene at the time, and the numerous contradictions among eyewitness testimonies—none of these views has what might be called a documentary quality. But they all both expressed and shaped how Haymarket was understood in the public mind.

This is especially true of de Thulstrup's drawing, which stretched out over two full pages and became the most frequently reproduced visual representation of the bombing. The details are factually incorrect, because by all accounts Fielden ended his speech before the bomb was thrown, and because the riot did not begin until after the explosion. In de Thulstrup's depiction, the speech, the explosion, and the riot all take place at once. However wrong it may be on a literal level, this drawing accurately expresses the widely held belief that labor agitation, economic uncertainty, and class tensions had turned American cities into social dynamite that could blow up at any moment.