What makes Chicago so Haunted?
The second city of America has drawn almost as many characters as New York or Los Angeles. It’s the gateway to the Midwest and a hub of industry to rival any in the world. The lakes, the railroads, and the rivers all drew those seeking their fortune and a new life. Many lives were ended here, some in spectacular fashion.
Our tour of Chicago centers on Lincoln Park and it’s many haunted places. For instance, you might easily pass by The Tonic Room, without guessing that it is the most haunted bar in the neighborhood, but just about every bar in Chicago lays claim to at least one ghost. This one has some very special ingredients for its phantasmagorical cocktail of the living and the dead.
Satanic rituals and sacrifices
Before it became an atmospheric live venue (with a great beer selection by the way), it was the alleged headquarters of the Order of the Golden Dawn, an Egyptian themed cult. The Golden Dawn participated in occult traditions dating back to antiquity — including astral projection, clairvoyance, exorcism, alchemy, and more.
One woman even claimed to have witnessed a ritual murder here in the 1930s, when she attended a secret meeting with her father. The Society’s members purportedly included Irish poet W. B. Yeats and artist and occultist Aleister Crowley.
After the secret society was forced out by worried neighbors, it became an occultist shop, owned by Frederic De’Arechaga. He called it El Sabarum, meaning ‘of many gods.’ After many years of suspicion and maltreatment by the neighborhood, he finally moved the shop. However, a dagger was left in a basement wall above a pentacle painted on the floor. When the shop became The Tonic Room bar an early owner tore the dagger from the wall, and shortly after that, ghostly havoc was unleashed. Spirits were seen regularly as if something had been unplugged. One bartender was rendered temporarily paralyzed and refused to say what he had seen. Returning the knife to the wall did diminish the sightings for a while.
A horrible day at the asylum
Another concentration of supernatural sightings is found at what is now ironically The Alphawood Foundation Building, a grant-giving charitable organization. Before this, it was the Hobbs Institute for the insane, much like the more well-known asylum Read-Dunning institute a few miles to the East, Hobbs Institute was a dumping ground for those that society did not want to see. This included the destitute, mentally ill, even unwanted wives, accused of insanity or adultery by uninterested husbands.
There are more than a few tales of early and brutal death at this place. Like Frozen Mary, an unwanted bride, sent here sane, but reduced to a shell of a human being by the ghastly standards of ‘treatment’ at this hell hole. She was treated with ice baths, one of which took her life after a scream that the whole neighborhood heard. Her ghost wanders the halls shivering and skeletal, seeking her sanity.
Chicago gangsters and speakeasy
A short walk away from the former asylum, the John Barley Corn Memorial pub has a much more pleasant but no less colorful history, including a stretch as a speakeasy that has been reproduced in fiction and film for decades. The bar was boarded up so the police could not see inside, and a Chinese Landry next door became a front. Booze was smuggled in under piles of dirty laundry in carts, and patrons entered through the laundry’s steam and smells. The place became a favorite hangout of notorious bank robber John Dillinger, who haunts an alleyway nearby, and was said to buy rounds of illegal booze, using the money he stole from banks.
And then there was the moose head. The head of a very large moose hung on the wall when a man named Sam Sanchez bought the pub in 1984. Nobody knows who shot the moose, but it watched over the patrons faithfully for many years. Until one night, the head simply plummeted off the wall, crashing to the floor and startling everyone in the place — who then drank a round on the house to the memory of the moose.
Lake Michigan’s famed metropolis seems to have it all—and then some. Maybe you’ve come to Chicago to catch a comedy show at Second City, try the famous deep-dish pizza, or take a stroll through Millennium Park and catch your reflection on the mirror finish of the bean, a magnificent sculpture by Indian-born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor.
Maybe you’re a Chicago native who’s walked these streets a million times before. Either way, the beauty that towers above you in Chicago’s magnificent skyscrapers is mirrored by a darkness that lurks below the busy streets. Are you brave enough to peer beneath the surface?
Go back in time with us to an era of the Red Onion Jazz Babies, gangsters, bootleggers, and bank robbers. Windy City Ghosts nightly tours take you through Lincoln Park, a beautiful North Side neighborhood with a twisted past. Learn about the forgotten burial ground that is the foundation of this bustling neighborhood and what ghost haunted Al Capone to the end of his days.
Join a tour with Windy City Ghosts, and you’ll hear the strange and disturbing tales associated with each of the carefully selected tour stops. From the occult history of Prohibition-era pubs to the shifting statues of the lovely Oz Park, Lincoln Park is home to plenty of urban legends you may have heard scraps of—but your professional, local guides will tell you the detailed, thoroughly researched stories you can’t get anywhere else.
All Ghost Tours meet at Julia Porter Park (N Lincoln Ave and Fullerton) at the tours scheduled time. Don’t worry, the park is tiny—you’ll see us!
The standard tour route is 1 mile. Eight different locations are included in our standard tour.
Our extended tour includes four extra locations, adding 1 mile to the distance for a total distance of 2.0 miles.
Click the ‘Buy Now’ button to see available times and places.
Tours are held every night. Please arrive at least ten minutes early and allow plenty of time for parking and walking to the location. Tours are held rain or shine!
Admission for your tour must be purchased ahead of time on our site. Click “Buy Now” to bring up the ticket order process, fill the (short!) form out completely, and confirm your reservation, then… you’re done! You do NOT need to print your tickets or worry about mobile passes! After completing your tour reservation online, you’ll automatically be added to the admission list for your tour time and date. Simply bring your ID with you for us to verify your reservation before your tour begins.
Pay-to-Park is available on North Lincoln Ave and Fullerton. Limited free parking is available on side streets such as N Orchard and N Burling. Fullerton CTA stop is within walking distance of the starting point.
Here are 4 reasons why you should book Windy City Ghosts right now!
Entertaining and full of history – and gore!
Our tour offers thrilling supernatural insight into the dark side of the city. We also cover a wide array of educational and historical details of the city that you will not learn anywhere else!
Chicago has a fascinating history, springing from the trade of fur traders, missionaries, and business people who saw its potential to control access to the Mississippi basin and the overland routes via rail to the whole Mid-West. Many of the waves of new Americans that came from Europe, Scandinavia, and further afield were drawn to this unionized town’s high wages.
The unions and the powerful ward system of politics meant Chicago was a power base for politicians of the day, and where power flows, blood surely follows. Corruption and murder were the lingua franca of the streets for decades, and all every deal gone wrong left a ghost behind.
Find out which gangsters, bootleggers, politicians, and jazz singers still haunt the windy shores of Lake Michigan today.
Knowledgeable Chicago tour guides
When you take a tour with Windy City Ghosts, you will be in the hands of professional and passionate guides, as well as being locals and incredibly knowledgeable about local culture and stories of hauntings they are courteous and adaptable.
If you bring the family you will still have children that will sleep tonight, but everyone will be remembering the stories for years to come! The tour is fully accessible and suitable for everyone. Bring a date and have stories to share for decades, if it works out!
Only the finest stories of hauntings and real history
All the stops on the Windy City ghost itinerary give you a deep look into Chicago’s dark past and shady characters. You’ll hear stories from the Second City that you won’t find in the history books, but that will bring different periods of the history of the City by The Lake to life, in a way that will stick in your memory like nothing from school. Hear tales of human suffering, bad luck, and tragedy with twists and turns that make them memorable beyond belief.
We research eyewitness accounts of the hauntings, like the ghost of a murdered jogger in Oz Park, who looks real but speaks with a distinctive tinny and faraway sound, eternally looking for a safe way out of the park to avoid her horrible fate.
Fun and frightening all in one
All the reviews talk of how fun the tour is. Windy City Ghosts is not like seeing a horror movie at the cinema (although with the extended tour it is a little shorter than the average movie); the fear creeps up on you and is suggested, not explicit.
Chicago at night is an atmospheric experience. The streets have a special light, and it does not take much to put you in a supernatural frame of mind. Whether you take the standard tour or extend dive deeper into the haunted history of Chicago with the extended tour, we know you will have fun, learn something, and have some truly terrifying tales to tell your family and friends when you get home, even if your home is already in Chicago.
Join us for a whirlwind fun and frightening wander through the terrible tales of the Windy City Ghosts.