Chicago’s Most Haunted Places
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
BY ANJALI PRABHAKAR
Happy Halloween! Hope everyone had a spooky October. To celebrate, I have researched some of the most haunted places in the windy city. After hearing these spooky stories, you might even consider staying away and moving out of Chicago!
1. Graceland Cemetery
Anything with a graveyard must have a haunting story. Well, this haunted story takes place at the Graceland Cemetery. In 1880, Inez Clarke was struck by lightning while playing outside in the pouring rain. A glass box was added to the stone statue of her at the graveyard to protect her from the lightning which caused her sudden death. On days when lightning strikes, visitors claim the statue goes missing. Once it stops raining, the statue of Inez comes back in the glass box. People speculate she goes out to play again in the rain. Oooh, spooky!
2. H.H. Holme’s Murder Castle
Before we dive deep into the murder castle, we need to know who H.H. Holmes was. Well, he was a notorious American serial killer. In fact, he was the nation’s first known serial killer. Born in New Hampshire, he moved to Chicago in 1886, becoming a pharmacist there. There, he began his killing streak, known for manipulating his victims. He mostly murdered women because he would seduce and become engaged to them, while finally collecting their life savings, then killing them. He murdered for the money and then sold the bodies to medical schools.
Holmes had a house built for him called the “murder castle” where he would execute his kills, mostly occurring in the dark basement. To make sure no one knew the entire floor plans, Holmes hired many different contractors to work on different parts of the house. The house was composed of stairways that lead nowhere and windowless rooms, purposefully meant to confuse his innocent victims. Arrested in Boston, tried in Philadelphia, and sentenced to death, Holmes claimed to have killed 27 people. However, it is researched to have been a higher number of killings, passing 200 victims!
Now a local post office, the murder castle was located in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.
3. Battle of Fort Dearborn site
On August 15, 1812, 68 people were killed and the fort was burned to the ground in the Battle of Fort Dearborn. There is a legend that says there are ghosts roaming around that area in 19th-century garments.
4. Death Alley behind James M. Nederlander’s Theater
When you hear Death Alley, you know this theater must have a chilling story. In the year of 1903, a fire erupted in a said “fire-proof” building. 2,000 people were trapped inside since the fire doors were locked. 602 of these people were confirmed dead in the next 5 hours. What’s even spookier? Today, people passing by report hearing cries and being touched by invisible creatures. Possibly ghosts of the dead coming back to haunt the living?
5. Congress Plaza Hotel
How can this famous landmark in Chicago be haunted? Despite many celebrities and presidents visiting this well-known hotel in Chicago, there are reports of unexplained stops to the eighth floor in the elevator. Among other suspicious activity at the hotel, there is legend of mysterious whispering and moving items on some floors. Additionally, there are reports of a young boy playing, lights turning on and off, and a silhouette of a woman. There are rumors that Al Capone and his gang of mobsters committed crimes there. Be careful next time visiting at this hotel, especially if you’re in room 441!
6. Water Tower
Built between 1867 and 1869, the water tower was built for Chicago’s water system. It is actually the second oldest water tower in the country. During the Chicago Fire, it was one of the only buildings still standing. It is said that one courageous man stayed behind to work the pumps. When he realized there was no way out, he went to a higher floor of the tower and hung himself. People have claimed they have seen his silhouette through the windows, but whenever the police come, it disappears.
7. Lincoln Park
You may know Lincoln Park as a grassy plain to play sports at. However, it was a city cemetery before 1865. Even though many bodies were dug back up and transported to other local cemeteries, many bodies still remained under Lincoln Park. Today, there are approximately 10,000 bodies still buried in Lincoln Park. Rumor is that on the death anniversary of Frances Pearce, a mother who died there, her coffin fills up with a white mist.
8. The Drake
The Congress Plaza gets all the attention, but the Drake is yet another haunted hotel in the city of Chicago because of the mysterious woman in red. During a party at the Drake, a woman dressed in all red found out that her husband had multiple affairs with other women. In a fit of madness, she commited suicide by jumping down from the elevator. Legend is that her ghost haunts the Gold Coast Room, the Palm Court, and the 10th floor.
9. Hull House
You may have visited the Hull House as it is an interesting and free museum in the west side of Chicago, today near the UIC college. Founded by Jane Addams and Ellen Gate Starr, they turned a mansion into one of North America’s first settlements. It featured a theater, gym, art gallery, libraries, kitchens, apartments for staff, and much more. People, mostly women, living in the Hull House fought for child labor laws, women’s suffrage, and other reform movements.
Addams reported that she often heard the sound of footsteps while sleeping in her bedroom. The Hull House is also home to the tale of the “Devil Baby.” This tale states that a Catholic mother hung a picture of Virgin Mary in the home. Her atheist husband ripped it from the wall, angrily yelling, “I’d rather have the Devil in the house!” Supposedly, the mother gave birth to a child with monstrous features and was abandoned there. Reports claim after unsuccessful efforts to baptize the child by Addams, she locked him in the attic until the baby died. Even though it’s an urban legend, you never know, there may be a devil baby haunting visitors at the Hull House. Watch out next time you visit!
10. Biograph Theater Alley
Our last haunted spot in Chicago is the alley of the Biograph Theater. The well-known criminal by the name of John Dillinger was killed at the Biograph Theater alley by FBI agents as he tried to escape. There are reports of Dillinger’s ghost haunting the alley and some have seen his shadow running and collapsing to the ground. Some surmise that not Dillinger, but a lookalike, was killed in that alley and the ghost is actually the man set up to be Dillinger.