Spooky legends of the South Loop

By Corey Bealeart | Community Contributor

Chicago has had its fair share of tragedy, both past and present. Massive fires that razed the city, gang violence and ship disasters.

According to Windy City occult theorists and horror story enthusiasts, those who met their tragic un- timely demise return in ghost form, in a creepy at- tempt to create a new legacy by scaring the wits out of an unsuspecting chum. One location that sticks out in paranormal tales is the Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S. Michigan Ave.

Built in 1893 to accommodate visitors to the World’s Columbian Expo, the Congress Plaza Hotel has had a long history of presidential tenancy and stories about Al Ca- pone’s secret residency. Yet amidst the historical significance, there is a dark and possibly evil side to the property. From serial killings to a construction worker supposedly buried within the walls, a roaming ghost child and a one-legged home- less man’s murder, this dwelling is rated the number one most haunt- ed building in the city by multiple sources including Rent.com. Have you booked your room yet?

cp1Want to check it out? All you need for a paranormal journey is a credit card and Expedia. Just hope they don’t give you room 441. According to guests, a shadowy female figure is said to stand at the end of the bed and kick people awake.

After you check out of your room at the Congress Plaza, head down to Prairie Avenue to continue your search for the supernatural.

Entrepreneur Marshal Field, founder of the department stores that carry his moniker, lived on Prairie Avenue, as did industrialist Philip Armour along with many political players, and those who have influenced Chicago’s current laws, culture, architecture and economy. Of the 90 mansions that once stood in this area, all but 7 remained as the area changed with the times. “Many of the homes that are standing on Prairie Avenue were eventually torn down and rebuilt,” says Nanci Gasiel, who works at the Glessner House Museum, 1800 S. Prairie Ave.

Some claim that the haunting of Prairie Avenue is due to the houses being built on a mass Indian grave from the Fort Dearborn Massacre in 1812. “There are a lot of stories and no one is quite sure what kind of things may be running around,” says Gasiel.

With Chicago’s share of tragedy there could be more than meets the eye in an old building and historic neighborhood. Discover more about these local haunts during the Hallows Eve season via various haunted tours.

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