There’s tons of haunted places in Chicago. But during Halloween, the chill you get around here gives a different meaning to the term “Windy City.”
Appearances aren’t everything. And just because Chicago has a modern face, it’s only a thin veil over the city’s long, gangster history. Because you can change how a building looks, but you can’t change its past.
Without further adieu, here are some places in Chicago that offer extra spirits. And we’re not talking about the kind you can drink out of a glass.
The last place you’d expect to be haunted is a nightclub, unless you count being haunted by embarrassing memories of drunken nights past.
Then again, when a bar looks like a giant castle…how could it not be haunted?
The castle-like Excalibur Club (now Castle Chicago) was built to hold the Chicago Historical Society after the original burnt down in the Chicago Fire. People sought shelter in what was supposed to be a fireproof building.
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
The location’s tragic past seems to be spilling into its much more upbeat present. Customers and employees experienced hauntings, some as innocent as a candle too high to reach without a ladder lighting by itself – to people being pushed down stairs and over railings.
It’s so haunted that Travel Channel has featured it and America’s favorite douchebags of debauchery investigated it on Ghost Adventures.
The dudes who are regulars at Hooters may not be the only sad, lonely souls sitting at the bar.
Opened just before Halloween of 1991, there’s a rumor that the building was used to store dead bodies from the Eastland Disaster of 1915 in the basement before they were moved to what is now Harpo studios (”you get a ghost! You get a ghost! Everybody gets a ghooooooost!”)
The Eastland was a large ship that capsized in the Chicago River, killing almost 1,000 people. If they weren’t entombed inside, the heavy clothes worn at the time dragged them underwater.
Unable to handle the amount of bodies, rumor has it when they ran out of room at what’s now Harpo, they stored bodies in the basement of what now houses Hooters.
Bartenders and waitresses claim that in the storage room in the basement, they’ve heard their names being called, felt their shoulders being touched, heard footsteps of unseen people running behind them on the stairs, and some have even witnessed things falling from shelves.
Red Lion Pub
This has been deemed one of Chicago’s most haunted pubs.
While the bar itself is only as young as the 1980’s, the location on North Lincoln Ave is rich in Chicago mob history.
Capone was a frequenter of the space back in the day, and it’s right across the street from the old Biograph where John Dillinger saw his last show.
Here, there aren’t just rogue cold spots or things falling off of shelves – there are several distinct spirits haunting the place, including a woman dressed in 20’s attire, a cowboy, a bearded man, and a 20 year old mentally disabled woman named Sharon (who apparently smells like the lavender perfume she wore when she was amongst the living).
Sadly it has since moved (double check) but the new location is super classy, so worth checking out.
The Tonic Room
This one’s like, crazy out there.
The Tonic Room, while a bar and local music venue today, has a long and kinda twisted history.
Established in the 1920’s, the pub has been everything from a brothel (in the apartments above it) to a hangout for a North Side Irish gang.
Apparently, the owners discovered Egyptian iconography painted on the basement ceiling, mirrored by a pentagram painted on the floor. This led to speculation that the place was once used for the American chapter of the Golden Dawn – an organization devoted to study and practice of the occult. An elderly woman even claimed that in the 30’s her father brought her to a secret meeting there, where she witnessed a ritualistic murder.
The staff and patrons alike have reported seeing apparitions, but in my opinion that takes second place to the creepy-ass backstories of the venue.
I’m going by the whole “best for last” rule here, solely because it’s the most random place on this list, even more-so than Hooters.
Seriously, Adobo Grill? The Chipotle-level Mexican restaurant chain? Haunted?
While the restaurant is new, the building is very old. Dating back to the 1800’s, a building in the same spot housed Piper’s Bakery. When the Chicago Fire burnt it down in 1871, the owner rebuilt it, and that incarnation of the building still stands.
The bakery was right next to an alley aptly named “Piper’s Alley” -where several murders took place (if that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the name of the building that houses Second City).
After it was redesigned to look more Adobo-ish, a whole slew of weird occurrences have taken place at the restaurant. The more innocent happenings include hearing singing and footsteps, the sound of women’s heels and poofy skirts in the women’s bathroom, and strange lights.
Some of the occurrences, however, are straight up scary. The owner has reported seeing shadowy figures walking up the stairs, before disappearing in the dining room. Or the invisible hand that employees have felt grab their shirts and drag them backwards.
Whether you believe in this stuff or not, ghosts stories still provide some fun scares and are an unusual but fun way to learn a little bit more about our beautiful city’s grisly past.