With Halloween just around the corner, we’re all looking to add a little mischief to our lives!
Chicago is an enchanting city, perhaps, more enchanting than you might hope. With a complicated history rife with tragedy, the city’s spiritual underbelly finds a way to show its ghostly face to unsuspecting witnesses. Meet the local ghosts in your neighborhood with this list of the 10 most haunted places in Chicago and get yourself into the spooktacular spirit!
1. Death Alley
In late December 1903, a crowd of 1,700 — mostly women and their children — were in eager attendance at the newly-built Iroquois Theater. The matinee production was a whimsical musical comedy called Mr. Bluebeard. Before the second act would close, one-third of those in attendance would perish. It was an unspeakable tragedy. Marshall Everett would later write in The Great Chicago Theater Disaster, that it was “a calamity which…bereft hundreds of homes of their loved ones and made Chicago the most unhappy city on the face of the earth.”
When firefighters arrived, all those inside had perished. As they went through the remains in search of survivors, they began to pile the bodies in the alley behind the theater. That alley has come to be known as “Death Alley.” It is here that cries, wails, and apparitions are said to haunt to this day.
2. Lincoln Park, Site Of The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
On February 14, 1929, four assailants dressed as police officers lined seven North Side gang members up against a wall at a garage on 2122 North Clark Street and gunned them down with Thompson submachine guns. The incident would come to be known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Since then, the building and garage have been torn down. It’s said, however, that the location still bears ghostly remnants of the massacre. Those killed in the incident are said to haunt the premises, inspiring reports of voices, screaming, machine-gun fire, and phantom mists in the area.
3. Graceland Cemetery
Graceland Cemetery has often been puzzled by the mysterious grave marker of one, Inez Clarke. A glass-encased statue features a life-sized sculpture of Clarke as a young girl. When she was only six years old, Clarke was on a picnic with her parents when she was struck and killed by lightning. On stormy nights, it’s said that her sculpture vanishes, hiding from the rain only to return when it clears. Inez’s ghost is also said to have been spotted in the cemetery, running and playing.
4. Congress Plaza Hotel
You’ve heard of Room 237 in The Shining’s Overlook Hotel. But have you heard of Room 441? Past guests that have stayed in Congress Plaza Hotel’s infamous room have reported sites of darkened silhouettes, having the bed shake and the covers ripped off it as they slept, and other eerie tales that have caused multiple visitors to request a room change in the middle of the night. The Congress, built in 1893, has hosted a number of notable guests including Al Capone and HH Holmes, the latter being the very same who operated his own Murder Castle at West 63rd Street and South Wallace Avenue.
5. Glessner House
The Glessner House is a National Historic Landmark built in 1887, located near the lakeshore, a couple of blocks over from Soldier Field. This traditional Victorian-style mansion was the former home of Francis Glessner Lee, a pioneer of forensic science whose work inspired CSI’s Miniature Killer episodes. Today, it’s said that the house is haunted by the ghost of its architect, Henry Hobson Richardson, who died before the home was completed.
6. The Site of The Battle of Fort Dearborn
During the War of 1812, a grisly battle ensued at what is now the intersection of Michigan Ave. and Wacker between a contingency of settlers at Fort Dearborn and the Potawatomi tribe. After the dust cleared, 83 people were killed. However, it wasn’t until the 80s, when a construction company working the road accidentally unearthed the remains of bodies that had long been buried, that paranormal reports began to occur. Since then, witnesses have reported ghosts running and screaming at the site of the battle.
7. Marina City (East Tower)
Originally built as a city-within-a-city to keep white Americans from fleeing to the suburbs during an era wrought with systemic racism, Marina City has long been subject to grisly murders, untimely deaths, and suicides. The peculiarity, however, lies in the fact that all of these tragedies took place in the East Tower.
8. Lincoln Park Zoo, Original City Cemetery
Where the Lincoln Park Zoo’s pleasant and homely barn stands today was the former location of the original city cemetery. In the mid-19th century, the city relocated the interred to cemeteries across the city. However, thousands of bodies were forgotten. During the construction of the barn, a number of bodies were dug up. After repeated unreturned calls to the city, the builders decided to leave the bodies where they were. Now, visitors have reported hearing voices in the barn as well as visions of shadowy figures cloaked in garments from the 1800s.
9. Hull House Museum
The Hull House began in 1856 as a residence for the sick and poor. As time passed, it would become an elderly home, and by 1885 — when Jane Adams took over — a temporary residence for immigrants to shelter while they found their footing in their new country. Unfortunately, the legacy of the house would me marred by the arrival of a demon baby soon thereafter. The tales of its origin vary, but the baby was said to have had horned ears, cloven hoofs, and a tail. As a baby, it was also able to speak. Adams sought to protect the child from the public, until one day when it simply disappeared. Today, the face of the demon baby is said to have been seen lurking in the attic window. A ghostly woman in white is also said to haunt the halls of the second floor, as well as a trio of girls often seen playing around the fountain.
10. Eastland Disaster Site
The capsizing of the S.S. Eastland mini-cruise ship docked in the Chicago River on July 24, 1915 killed 844 people. It was the largest loss of life in a single incident in the history of Chicago. Since then, there have been numerous reports of phantom screams coming from the location of the disaster, as well as sites of drowning faces and bodies in the water. Unlike the tragedy at the Iroquois Theater, the Eastland disaster was largely ignored by the city and didn’t affect any change in policy for nearly a century.