“Dark Alleys” Enlighten Chicago History Enthusiasts

Chicago’s Biograph Theater as it looks today. (Photo by Linda Kirsininkas)

What did Chicago’s Biograph Theater, Our Lady of Angels School and  the Union Stockyards have in common last Saturday? Any guesses?

All were stops on a marvelous tour entitled “Dark Alleys of Chicago” sponsored by the Chicago Genealogical Society.  The focus of the outing was to give local history enthusiasts an opportunity to visit the notorious, infamous and macabre sites that make up the dark side of Chicago’s history.  You know ~ the ones you’d never see advertised in those slick advertising brochures marketed to traditional Chicago tourists. And who could resist a tour like that ~ especially in the month of October ~ when ghosts, hauntings, murder and mayhem seem to be the order of the day all month long?

The Biograph in 1934 where John Dillinger, “Public Enemy #1″was finally gunned down by the FBI. (Photo courtesy of the FBI)

Well, I couldn’t resist and neither could my longtime friend Linda Kirsininkas whom I have to thank for the present day tour photos featured in today’s post.

Among our stops? Sites of the St.Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929;  the Biograph theater where notorious bank robber John Dillinger was gunned down by authorities in 1934;  and The Four Deuces the speakeasy, brothel and headquarters run by gangster Al Capone in the late 1920s and early 30’s.

Other points of interest?

Stops and drive-bys included  Jane Addams Hull House on the UIC campus; sites of the Haymarket rebellion, the Everleigh sisters turn-of-the-century brothel in the old Levee District, and a stop by the old Chicago stockyards, center of the 1919 labor riots ~ all mere bullet points (no pun intended!) on a very short course in Chicago History.

Our Lady of Angels Catholic school during the 1958 fire that cost nearly 100 lives and changed fire safety codes for schools nationwide. (Photo courtesy of Our Lady of Angels website)

We also passed by Our Lady of Angels school where a devastating fire killed nearly 100 children and  teachers in the late 1950s; the street corner where Richard Speck, renowned for killing eight student nurses in 1966, was captured by police; and Washington Square Park where serial killer John Wayne Gacy was known to pick up his victims in the 1970s before completing his ghoulish crimes.

Our Lady of Angels Church today. The school building that replaced the one that burned in 1958 is to the left of the church. (Photo by Linda Kirsininkas)

There are colorful (and lengthy) tales to be told for each site visited last weekend. The photos and captions displayed below, though, will offer a glimpse into some of the fabled stories that dot the Dark Alleys of Chicago.

So please, come along and enjoy this virtual tour into Chicago’s past (that is, if you dare!)

Copyright © 2012 Patricia Desmond Biallas

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9 Responses to “Dark Alleys” Enlighten Chicago History Enthusiasts

  1. Adam Selzer says:

    Finally, a tour that gets the Gacy cruising ground right!

  2. Lorene says:

    Good story, Pat! Love the photos.too. I went on a tour of such sites given by my bro in law when I was about 12 years old. At that time I was fascinated with the stories of the St Valentine’s Day Massacre and of course, Al Capone. To see where the action took place in the big city was quite the deal for a small town girl from Adrian.

  3. tdv31@aol.com says:

    Pat–What an exciting day you had. That would have been a real adventure, especially since you are so deeply into Chicago history. It made me hope that when I did tours of Detroit the people on the tour got some thrills if not remembrances along the way! Thanks for sending. Dorothy

  4. di4350417@aol.com says:

    Pat: You’re having way too much fun for this to be called work! Enjoy the process. This is fascinating stuff! Diane Desmond

  5. samthewatermelonman says:

    Hi Pat, wonderful job with your coverage of this fun tour. I loved it as much as you. btw, I was the attendee who told Craig that my relatives were “extinguished” by the Capone gang. An interesting story indeed. I have so much information about my Sicilian family and their colorful lives. Great job covering this very terrific CHS event.

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