From RL Stine, to Bloody Mary, many of us have a childhood ghost story ingrained in our ten year old memory that when revoked in our adult mind, can trigger a nostalgic chill that we gladly would rather forget. Given the nature of this weekend, and a city captivated by Al Capone’s spirit, it’s not surprising that Chicago’s haunted history, would be home to many myths of ghosts, spirits and haunted grounds- including the elusive underground refuge that is said to lie beneath Lower Wacker Drive. With a surplus of novels dedicated to the ghost lore of our Windy City, who’s to judge the legitimacy verse the fable of the untold stories engulfed in an urban oasis of historical secrecy and closed lips.
The Congress Hotel, known to have as many ghost stories as there are rooms, with an elevator that is said to consistently stop on the 12th floor –although no one pushed the button- and bodies said to have been buried within the walls during construction. Known as the ‘hand of mystery’ located in the notorious Gold Room a gloved hand retreats out of a wall behind the balcony. This room, known to host many wedding receptions, has had members of the wedding party vanish in the photographs taken around the notable grand piano. Built over a hundred years ago with Al Capone supposedly a frequent guest under a pseudo name, many claim to see him roaming the hallways. If you’re planning a staycation, avoid room 441. Not only is security called to this room more than any of the other 871 rooms, but at one point the door was secured shut from the outside, begging one to reevaluate the elicit ‘Haunted’ term.
The Drake Hotel, known to many as one of Chicago’s most high end luxury stays, had an opening night to be remembered. New Years Eve of 1920, crowds dressed to the nines, sipping cocktails and eyeing their midnight kiss, the ‘Women in Red’ draped in a satin gown went looking for her fiance, and to her horror found him in a compromising position with another woman. Devastated, the woman climbed to the roof and jumped to her death. Since this, guests claim to see her on the roof, still donning her beautiful red dress.
Whether the 1992 movie, Candyman, is on your Halloween playlist or not, most of us recall the unsettling notorious story-line. But, what many of us don’t realize is the truth behind the screenplay. Cabrini-Green, a rough around the edges neighborhood to say the least, is center stage to the truth of this movie. During this time, murders by entering apartments through medicine cabinets, was not at all uncommon. In fact, it was a fairly simple method. In 1987, Ruthie May McCoy frantically dialed 911, realizing someone had entered her apartment through a hole in her medicane cabinet. The officers who responded to the call and neighbor witnesses that claim to have heard gun shots, left without entering the apartment. Her body wasn’t found until two days later, in an inevitable decomposing state.
With Halloween seemingly consumed of parties, comedic costumes and cocktails, keep in mind there’s always more to what meets the eye. Is it that glass of wine that made you see something you deem impracticable? Or is the impossible, in fact, possible?