Chicago, Illinois is often considered to be one of the most haunted cities in the United States—and for good reason. Between the city’s history of mafia presence and notorious serial killers, it should come as no surprise that much of the city has its fair share of spirits wandering around.
While there are a number of haunted places in Chicago that resulted from suicides or fires, the most interesting of them stem from gang activity and Chicago serial killers. There are places to explore all around and while some cases have been heavily investigated, others have hardly been investigated at all. However, all of these places seem to have one thing in common—a dark past.
The site of the Valentine’s Day Massacre is one such place that is burdened with a tragic past. This site, Clark & Dickens garage, was being used by Bug Moran’s gang as a warehouse for black market liquor during the time of prohibition. On February 14th, 1929, Al Capone ordered his men to arrive to the garage and kill the members of the rival gang.
Dressed as cops, Al Capone’s men pulled up to the garage in a police car and shot all seven of Bugs Moran’s men in cold blood. This is considered to be the beginning of the downfall of Al Capone. The people of Chicago were outraged at this act of violence and Bugs Moran, who had arrived to the garage late and not been shot dead, openly accused Al Capone of the crime.
Nowadays, people report seeing apparitions walking the property and sensitive people have reported developing a strong sense of fear around the area. Others have heard screaming men and machine gun fire as they walk by the building. Bugs Moran’s brother-in-law died in the shooting and it’s rumored that he haunted Al Capone until his death.
On a similar note, Al Capone’s ghost has been spotted at what was one of his regular hangout spots. The Congress Plaza Hotel was built for the 1893 World’s Fair in order to show how much Chicago had recovered from the fire of 1871, but a history of violence and misfortune has led it to become one of the most haunted hotels in the state—if not the country.
In the past, Al Capone used the hotel for “business” meetings and smuggling illegal goods and his ghost is occasionally seen in the lobby or at the bar. A man with one leg, affectionately nicknamed Peg-Leg Johnny, is also a popular Chicago ghost that can also be seen wandering around the halls. Although nobody is completely sure of his identity, he’s thought to be a homeless man who was murdered behind the hotel.
Perhaps the most tragic of the hotel’s ghosts is the spirit of a 6-year-old boy who roams the 12th floor. As the story goes, a young woman, who was an immigrant from Prague, was staying at the hotel with her two sons as she waited for her husband to join them. As the days went on, the woman became more and more nervous, eventually having a breakdown. She threw her two sons from the 12th floor and jumped after them.
Although now a U.S. Post Office, another hotel built for the 1893 World’s Fair came to be the site of one of the most tragic events in American history and one of the most haunted hotels in Chicago. Aptly named the H.H. Holmes’ Murder Castle, it was the scene of at least 28 murders and it’s reported that this negative energy still haunts the property.
H.H. Holmes built his hotel with the intention of offering accommodation to guests during the World’s Fair. He incorporated strange features such as stairs leading to walls, hidden passageways, and windowless rooms—all designed to trap and confuse guests. Select rooms were used as gas chambers and others had blow torches built into the walls and metal plates as the wallpaper. A basic alarm system warned him of movement or of anyone trying to escape and he constantly changed his staff so they wouldn’t catch on to his tactics.
Years after he began murdering his guests, H.H. Holmes was arrested for insurance fraud. When police searched his property, they were shocked at what they found. Not only was the hotel clearly built for malicious purposes, but there were various chutes leading down into the basement. There, police found a table for performing surgery and dissections, blood splattered on the walls, a pile of human bones, and a basin of acid that could decompose a human body within hours.
Although the hotel was destroyed, the basement still exists under the post office. Dogs desperately try to avoid the property and employees report feeling a sense of dread. Some have even reported seeing Holmes walk around the basement while others have heard moans and cries.
Another of the most notorious Chicago serial killers, John Wayne Gacy, is also reported to haunt his old dwelling. He was known for dressing up as a clown and luring children, usually young boys, to his home. He would then sexually assault them and murder them. In total, he was convicted of 33 murders and the majority of the bodies were found in the crawl space under his house.
Guests have seen the ghost of the killer wandering the home and have also heard the screams of young boys. Paranormal investigators managed to pick up on the killer using EVP. The hauntings still continue even after an exorcism was performed on both the house and John Wayne Gacy’s grave.
Chicago may be a bustling, cosmopolitan city, but it has a dark past that it just can’t seem to escape. For more information on tours of haunted places in Chicago and Chicago ghosts, check out the Chicago Hauntings Tour (https://www.chicagohauntings.com/) or Chicago Ghost Tours (http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/chicago-ghost-tours/).