The most haunted hotel in Chicago

The most haunted hotel in Chicago

Chicago Quirk is in full Halloween mode, and my weekly ‘Did You Know, Chicago?’ will now be about Chicago’s most haunted places. First off is Chicago’s most haunted hotel: The Congress Plaza Hotel.

The Congress Plaza Hotel was built in 1893 to house the visitors streaming into Chicago for the World’s Columbian Exposition. It was originally called the Auditorium Annex to match the Auditorium Building across the street. The hotel’s south tower, which includes a banquet hall now known as the Gold Room, was constructed in 1902 and 1907. In 1909, another banquet room was added, called the Florentine Room. The hotel was renamed the Congress Plaza Hotel in 1908.

The hotel has had many different owners, and one of them was supposedly Al Capone who used the hotel as his headquarters. Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik, a member of Capone’s gang, lived at the hotel for years. I read that some people think that Capone and Guzik’s ghosts still reside in the hotel.

One of the hotel’s most famous apparitions is Peg Leg Johnny, the ghost of a hobo who was murdered there. Hotel staff have reported sightings of a ghost with one leg in the south tower.

There used to be a tunnel connecting the Auditorium Building to the Congress Plaza Hotel, called Peacock Alley. The marble passageway was walled up in 1911. I wonder what that looks like today.

A roller skating rink was torn down to make way for the hotel. The Florentine Room sits where the rink once did, and guests and security guards have reported sounds of roller skates throughout that room.

If you ever find yourself staying at the hotel, avoid room 441. Security is called there more than any other room. Objects move, strange sounds are heard and guests have even seen the shadowy outline of a woman.

There’s a legend of a worker who was walled up in the drywall during the hotel’s construction. This ‘hand of mystery’ can actually be seen in the closets behind the balcony in the Gold Room.

Many of the house staff have reported seeing the ghost of a little boy playing in the north tower of the hotel. Legend has it that the boy’s mother threw him and his brother off a balcony before she jumped herself.

The scariest part about the hotel is that on the 12th floor there is supposedly a room so horrifying that the door was screwed shut from the outside.


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    During my undergraduate years at Columbia College--Chicago, I roomed in Roosevelt University's Herman Crown Center Residence Hall. During poor weather, I often walked through the First Floor north-south corridor of the Congress Hotel to avoid rain storms, snowstorms, and other adverse weather conditions. At no time, during my walks to class while traversing this corridor, did I ever experience ghostly apparitions. In fact, I find this story about a place which I frequently walked through to be quite interesting.

  • Thanks!! I went to Columbia too, and when we got bored we would explore the hotel. I never heard anything either, but then again I don't think we were in the 'high activity' places.

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