Chicago Crime Tour

Chicago Crime Tour

This past weekend, my mother and I decided to do something in the city of Chicago that we had never thought of (or even wanted to do) before: we went on a Chicago crime tour! I honestly did not think I would like this tour, as gangsters and criminals never really were an interest of mine, and I had no idea what to expect. However, as the tour got started, I quickly found myself loving the stories and historical areas that we were able to visit and learn more about the great city of Chicago.

The tour, officially called Chicago Crime Tours, began next to the Water Tower Place/water tower on Michigan Avenue downtown. We boarded a big black limousine bus with yellow crime tape on it and began our journey. Our tour guide was really informative, funny, and I could tell he really loved the stuff he was talking about. The first stop on our tour was in Lincoln Park, near DePaul’s campus. This was the famous Biograph Theatre, where the notorious bank robber John Dillinger was killed in an alleyway nearby after exiting said theatre. At this point in the tour, we were able to get off the bus and walk around to the front of the theatre, and then to the alleyway to stand where he actually lay dying so many years ago. We also were able to drive by his favorite “speakeasy” where he would go right after a bank robbery. Seeing these historic buildings and locations were really cool!

The next stop on our tour was to drive by the would-be location of the warehouse in which the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred (would-be because the building has since been torn-down). We also drove by the Walgreen’s where the Tylenol scare of the 1980’s began, and the Rock n’ Roll McDonalds where people used to sell drugs through the drive-through window (apparently)! From here, we drove passed the Chicago Fire Department, which used to be the location of the original Cook County Jail, and the parking lot where the gallows used to hang. Right next-door was the old courthouse, where many gangsters, mobsters, and criminals were convicted, and then hanged next door at the gallows.

Our next stop on the tour was the Harry Caray’s Restaurant on West Kinzie Street. This was significant in the gangster-era because Frank Nitti, the “enforcer” in Al Capone’s gang, used to live on the fourth floor! In the basement, guests can view an old vault and once-hidden underground tunnels. It was amazing. Next, we stood and looked up to what was Al Capone’s favorite speakeasy: the dome at the top of the old Jewelers Building (35 East Wacker). Apparently, he loved this building so much and decided to open his speakeasy here because of the car-lift the building featured to allow jewelers to transport jewels to their offices without being robbed. Al Capone used this as well, to smuggle up his alcohol during prohibition! Truly an amazing story!

The last stop on our tour was the location of where Earl “Hymie” Weiss (leader of the North side Gang and rival of Al Capone) was killed outside of a church. A crater from where a bullet landed can still be seen at the foot of the church, but most of the bullet holes have been covered up by a new set of stairs. It was still a pretty cool thing to see, and is a major part of Chicago history.

All in all, the tour that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy turned out to be one of the coolest tours I’ve ever taken! I learned a lot about Chicago history and visited historical locations, all for a cheap price! If interested in this type of thing, I would definitely recommend taking this tour. Even if you are not interested, I would still recommend the tour because who knows! You may be surprised at the things you learn and find yourself enjoying some of the lesser-known historic facts about Chicago.


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