Whether you enjoy ghost stories or consider yourself a skeptic, it’s no secret that Chicago is one of the most haunted cities in America. Chicago’s history proves to be a notorious destination for spirit guests. From pubs to hotels, the city is steeped in historical events that have sparked some of the scariest stories of the century. Pay a visit (or don’t) to these landmark destinations that are sure to provide a spook.
Congress Plaza Hotel
Reported to be the most haunted hotel in Chicago, the hotel dates back to the 1890s when it was built to accommodate traveler’s attending the 1893 world’s fair. It’s rumored to have been owned by the notorious gangster, Al Capone, and many have seen the ghost of him roaming the hallways. Many hotel guests share similar experiences, such as appliances turning on and off, hearing music from the 1920s and 30s from vacant rooms nearby, and elevators arriving on floors without any buttons pressed. Some experience crazy dreams, while others see apparitions of people dressed in Prohibition-era clothing. The hotel is so haunted, in fact, that a room on the 12th floor is permanently closed because of scary things that have happened. Not buying it? Just ask the hotel workers, whose spooky stories will frighten for days. 520 S. Michigan Ave., 312-427-3800, congressplazahotel.com
The Drake Hotel
It’s known as one of the most elegant hotels in Chicago, but according to legend, the jaunt is haunted by the “Woman In Red,” who killed herself by jumping to her death after discovering her fiancé cheating on her at a New Year’s Eve party in 1920. Her ghost has been seen in the Gold Coast Room, Palm Court, the top floor and on the roof. 140 E. Walton Pl., 312-787-2200, thedrakehotel.com
Red Lion Pub
This Lincoln Park pub once used to be Dirty Dan’s Western Saloon, built in 1882. The saloon was remodeled in 1984. It’s rumored that people have died here and now roam the floors of the restaurant. Regulars at the pub and workers have heard footsteps, voices and objects moving on nights when the pub isn’t too busy. John Cordwell, the man who remodeled the saloon in the ’80s buried his dad there, and it’s said that when you pass the window where he’s buried, you feel a presence. 2446 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-883-2422, redlionchicago.com
The Former Adobo Grill (formerly That Steak Joynt)
This Old Town restaurant was affected in the same fire that hit Second City in 2015 and now operates around the corner on North Avenue. But when Adobo Grill inhabited the former That Steak Joynt restaurant, the building was known as one of the most haunted spaces in the city. In the 1980s, it’s rumored that a medium held séances in an upstairs dining room, where a reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times became violently ill. Workers from That Steak Joynt have reported shadows moving throughout the restaurant, flickering lights, chills, footsteps and other strange occurrences. Even creepier, it’s reported that a waitress was dragged down a staircase by an unknown force and was left with a burning red mark on her wrist. Bartenders have reported seeing apparitions upon closing time, and one even witnessed a pair of yellow eyes staring at him.
The Oriental/Ford Theater
Dating back to 1903, when it was known as the Iroquois Theater, a fire broke out on December 30, 2020, killing 602 people. Since this horrific tragedy, paranormal activity has been reported in the theater. Unexplained sounds, footsteps and other noises have been reported. Some patrons are said to get a feeling of uneasiness when behind the theater. 24 W. Randolph St., 312-977-1701, broadwayinchicago.com
Chicago Water Tower
Built in 1869, the Chicago Water Tower was one of the only structures that wasn’t devastated by The Great Fire of Chicago in 1971. While the fire affected a large part of the city, killing over 300 people, the man who was controlling the water pumps in the building hung himself in one of the towers when the fire got close. Many have reported seeing the ghost of this man in the tower’s window.
The Tonic Room
The Tonic Room has been a haunted staple of Chicago for decades. Having been around since the 1920s, the building was once used as an Irish gang’s hangout and the upstairs was used as a brothel. Rumor has it that an elderly woman witnessed a ritual murder there in the 1930s, and staff and patrons have reported seeing ghosts in the basement and main bar area. Even creepier, Egyptian symbols and a pentagram are painted on the basement floor, leading many to believe it was a meeting place for the Golden Dawn. Something is definitely spooky about this place. 2447 N. Halsted Ave., 773-248-8400, tonicroom.ticketfly.com