As far as haunted cities go – it’s maybe Chicago that takes the crown with a long history of harrowing events and twisted tales from the windy city.
With the Eastland Disaster of 1915, Al Capone’s reign in the 1920s and even the deadly heat wave of 1995 – Chicago has a long list of events to send a chill down anyone’s spine. Check out our favorite list of haunted places in Chicago. You may pass by one of these sites every day and not even know about its secret history.
1. Chicago Water Tower
Location: 806 Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Hours: Monday to Sunday: 10am – 7pm
Constructed between 1867 and 1869, the Chicago Water Tower is one of the most famous haunted buildings within the city. Originally built for the municipal water system, the building contains a large water pump, drawing water from Lake Michigan.
Although a gorgeous, and the second oldest water tower in the US – it has not been without its own tragedy. The building survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but history holds that as the flames continued, a single brave worker remained to tirelessly power the pumps. With no salvation in sight and the fire edging closer, the worker rose to the upper floors where he tragically hung himself.
Multiple reports claim that the silhouette of that same man can be seen in the tower’s top floors, but no body has ever been recovered by the police.
2. Congress Plaza Hotel
Location: 520 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
Built in 1893, the Congress Plaza Hotel has had its fair share of horror stories with none other than top-mobster himself, Al Capone leading plenty of rumors of vicious crimes committed within the building.
Spend the night in the South Tower (if you dare) and you might find yourself face-to-face with ‘Peg Leg Johnny’ – the spirit of a hobo brutally murdered within the alley behind the hotel. It’s still a mystery who he was and just how or why he was killed.
The North tower isn’t safe from a haunting either and security guards report seeing a small boy on the 12th floor of the building. He is believed to be the spirit of a young boy who, tragically along with his sibling, was thrown from the tower by his frantic immigrant mother fearing deportation. She was then reported to follow suit and plunge to her death.
Find yourself in Room 441 and perhaps you’ll experience the most paranormal of activities with guests reporting seeing the silhouette of a woman. It’s not rare for objects to move across the room or the lights to seemingly random flick on and off.
3. The site of the Eastland disaster
Location: Near the Clark Street Bridge, the South Bank of the Chicago River
Hours: 24 Hours
The SS Eastland, a passenger ship used for tours, was subject to the largest loss of life from a single shipwreck on the Great Lakes in 1915. The ship rolled onto its side while tied to a dock in the Chicago River, causing the huge loss of life of 844 passengers and crew.
The bodies of those affected by the disaster can still be found to haunt the area near the Clark Street Bridge and employees of Harpo Studio (formerly the 2nd Regiment Armory of which many of the bodies were taken) claim to have heard doors slamming, phantom music, unexplained footsteps, disembodied children’s voices and terrifying screams for help.
The Grey Lady, presumably a woman who lost a child during the disaster has been reportedly spotted on security cameras. Walk along the Chicago River at night and it’s said that you can still hear her moans and blood-curdling screams.
4. The Drake Hotel
Location: 140 E Walton Pl, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Hours: 24 Hours
It seems that The Congress Plaza isn’t the only hotel with a terrifying tale or two. The Drake Hotel, built in 1920 has stories of the mourning parents of 15-year old Booby Franks, kidnapped and murdered by University students. But perhaps the most famous story is the tale of the woman in red.
The woman in red’s apparition can still be seen haunting the Gold Coast Room, the Palm Court and the 10th floor of the hotel following her tragic death in 1920 which is why this hotel made it to our list of haunted places in Chicago. The woman, attending a New Year’s Eve opening gala in 1920, jumped to her death from the 10th floor after discovering her Husband cheating on her.
5. Graceland Cemetery
Location: 4001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613, USA
Hours: Monday to Friday: 8AM- 4PM Saturday to Sunday: 9AM – 4PM
Built in 1860, Graceland Cemetery is the famous resting place of some of the most famous individuals to walk the streets of Chicago. But it’s not a noteworthy criminal that haunts the gardens, but rather Inez Clarke, a 6-year-old girl that wanders that graveyard.
The story of Inex Clarke is one of the ultimate misfortune as she was struck with lightning in 1880 while playing in the rain.
Her parents added a glass box to the grave to symbolically protect their daughter from the elements that took once took her, but on days on lightening, cemetery workers and visitors have reported the statue to be missing completely. It is thought she returns to play in the rain, just like her very last day to cement Graceland Cemetery on the permanent list of haunted places in Chicago.
6. Location of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Location: 2122 North Clark Street
Hours: 24 Hours
A day usually reserved for romance and couple to express their love – the 14th of Feb, 1929 had different connotations for Chicago. Al Capone ordered a hit on the Irish mobster George ‘Bugs’ Moran at the garage of 2122 North Clark Street. As Bugs’ men entered, they were gunned down by Capone’s men, but returned fire, killing James Clark – Capone’s brother-in-law and second in command.
Today the address is said to be haunted by the ghost of a German Shepard, owned by one of those murdered in the Irish mob. But it’s not the dog that sends the most chills, but rather James Clark who Capone himself said to be haunted by. While spending time in prison for an illegal arms charge, Capone begged James (or Jimmy as he called him) to leave him alone. He even went as far as hiring a medium to rid the ghost, but the haunting continued to the end of his days.
Interested in learning more about Chicago’s top attractions? Check out the other tips for travelers in our Attractions section.