Chicago is a city with many tales, many of which sound like the beginning of ghost stories. The era of the mob alone provides many stories of bloodshed and loss that naturally lead people to wonder if the unfortunate souls are able to rest in peace, but it isn’t only those who suffered in the Prohibition mayhem whose history is full of love, loss, and tragedy. Here are five of Chicago’s locations with the most captivating histories and just maybe a few specters from the past.
Top 5 Haunted Places in Chicago
1) Site of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
On Valentine’s Day of 1929, Al Capone ordered a hit on a rival gang of bootleggers. Seven members of George “Bugs” Moran’s crew were ambushed in a garage. The killers lined their victims up against a wall and shot them in cold blood. Neighbors were eventually alerted of the tragedy by the dog of one of the men who died. The garage no longer stands, but people say the empty lot where it once stood still holds the echoes of those who died that day. Dogs who walk through the area react uneasily, whining, and straining to get away. Some think that the ghost of the faithful dog of long ago still sounds the alarm of that day.
2) Red Lion Pub in Lincoln Park
This pub was first built in 1882, and after changing owners many times through the years, it was repaired and reopened in 2014, but during the many decades of business, this humble pub has seen its share of tragedy. For example, the gangster John Dillinger was shot in the alley of the Biograph Theater, just across the street. A patron was killed there for his gambling debts, and his murderer is reported to have also died in the fight. A young woman was shot there, possibly by a jealous lover. With so many dramatic deaths, it’s not surprising that many say the pub is haunted. Visitors have seen people pass by the upstairs windows, and they hear heavy boots on the stairs and voices coming from empty rooms.
3) Lincoln Park
Today this is a wide, welcoming public park, but years ago it was not such a wholesome-appearing place. The ground was once the city’s primary cemetery, and although many of the bodies were moved around the middle of the 19th century, as many as 10,000 were left behind. When construction crews broke ground at the southern end of the park to build a parking lot, they discovered the remains of more than 80 people. Perhaps that’s why people have seen and heard things they can’t explain while playing in the park, such as shadowy movements and whispered words.
4) Graceland Cemetery
Since its first days in 1860, many notable citizens of Chicago have been buried at Graceland Cemetery, but the most remarkable grave belongs to a 6-year-old girl named Inez Clarke. In 1880, Inez was playing in the rain when she was struck by lightning and killed. Her distraught parents had a statue of the girl carved to mark her resting place, and they enclosed it in a glass box. Many people have reported that the statue disappears during lightning storms. Is she hiding from the lightning, or perhaps playing again in the rain?
5) H.H. Holmes’ Murder Castle
The site is now occupied by a post office, but it was built upon the ruins of the home of a prolific serial killer. Historians still debate about how many people died at the hands of H.H. Holmes, but he confessed to 27 murders, the police proved nine of them, and estimates of his victims run as high as 200. Holmes’ house was reportedly built to trap people and hide their bodies for disposal. He brought in different workers for the construction of his house so no one but him would know about the secret rooms, hidden passageways, and trapdoors into the basement, where many of the murders were thought to have occurred. Today, people who go down into the basement report feeling intense fear sweep over them, and they sometimes see strange figures slipping out of sight.
These are only a few of the stories you’ll find in Chicago. At Nightly Spirits our passion is finding the best local history and haunted locations. Join us for our Chicago Haunted Gangster Pub Tour or Chicago Ghost Tour and Pub Crawl. You just might have a ghost sighting of your own, so book your tour today!