Sitting along the shores of Lake Michigan, the city of Chicago was incorporated in1837. It has grown to be a cultural icon in the Midwest and beyond and is known by several nicknames: The Windy City, Chi-Town, Second City and the City of Big Shoulders. To stroll the downtown, especially near the lake, is to fall in love with the city and its people. Public Art dots the landscape as the visitor walks from museum to museum to a downtown tavern for a beer and a rest. Known as a cultural melting pot, it’s easy to find an activity or sport or restaurant to enjoy–no matter where you come from.
H.H. Holmes Murder Castle: Chicago, 1893; The World’s Fair was in town and the city was filled with excitement and bustling with activity. Locals were hawking their wares while scores of out-of-towners were looking for lodgings. This was the moment for which Herman Mudgett, aka H.H. Holmes, had been preparing. Holmes has been dubbed America’s First Serial Killer, the Devil in the White City, and a few other choice aliases. His original murder hotel was lost in a fire but a post office was erected on that corner. Lights, sounds, and paranormal actions have been reported inside, especially in the tunnel running beneath.
The Theatre District: Everyone knows that the dearly departed love a good show–or putting on one! Chicago’s Iroquois Theatre, however, might draw spirits for a more tragic reason. During its first performance in 1903, the repudedly “fire- proof” venue broke out in flames, trapping close to 600 people who died inside the infernal. There were so many dead that the alley behind the theatre was stacked with bodies. Today, both the new venue and the alley nearby are haunted by cries, whispers and ghostly apparitions.
Congress Hotel: The Congress Plaza Hotel was built to accommodate the upperclass visitors to the 1893 World’s Fair. It remains an iconic presence in downtown Chicago, a luxurious nod to the town’s fabled past. Notorious mobsters (think Al Capone) were rumored to have stayed here, and some of the hauntings are directly linked to violence and crime. The ghost of Peg Leg Johnny is said to wander the South Tower, while room 441 is said to be the most active. In here, electrical appliances go haywire and the spirt of a woman has been seen pacing the floors.
The Chicago River–the Eastland Disaster: The Chicago River curves its way through downtown before meeting the lake and has been the site of some unfortunate drownings. However, it was the disaster on July 15, 1915 that left the waters haunted. The S. S. Eastland was one of the ships commissioned to take a company of happy picnicers to a day of carefree activities. However, the top-heavy ship rolled over while still in the river, trapping 844 passengers and crew beneath the waters. Make-shift morgues were quickly commissioned, including the now Harpo Studios. Apparitions of those who drowned and cries coming from the dark waters of the Chicago River have been reported through the decades.
Graceland Cemetery: No, not Elvis’ digs–that’s in Memphis. The Graceland Cemetery opened in 1860 and is the final resting place for famous Chicagoans. The grounds are so nicely maintained, Graceland feels more like a city park. However, the graves here also tell some tragic tales, such as the story of 6 year-old Inez Clarke. The young girl was struck by lightning and its said that, on stormy days, she leaves her coffin and walks the grounds.
The Best Ghost Tours in Chicago
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