Chicago, IL

This Week in Chicago Visit Some of the City's Most Haunted Sites

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Chicago has been hailed as one of the most haunted cities in the world and you can see many of the city's ghostly sites
St. Michael's Church in Old Town Chicago said to be hauntedkmaschke/flickr

Chicago is known as one of the most haunted cities in the world, an impressive feat considering how young the city is compared with so many others in other countries. If you look at the number of ghost tours alone, you will find far more than other places advertise, which take participants to a number of different parts of the city. If you are looking for something to do in Chicago this week and would like to possibly experience a supernatural encounter here are some sites you won’t want to miss. Keep reading to the end to see a list of popular ghost tours you can take.

Wrigley Field

Most people associate, Harry Caray, the Chicago sportscaster who boisterously led the fans in singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game, during the 7th inning stretch. He died in 1998 but staff and visitors have reported seeing his ghost in the press box and bleachers nearby. He is also said to manifest as an unseen presence, unexplained mist, sudden overwhelming emotions when people get near the press box during tours.

A well-known custom in Chicago is spreading the ashes of loved ones who were Cubs fans at the ivy wall. Once person whose ashes were dropped there is songwriter Steve Goodman, Goodman was a diehard Cubs fan who wrote many songs about the team, including fan favorite, “Go, Cubs, Go,” which is played at the beginning and end of every home game.

Goodman died from leukemia in 1984 and his last wishes stated he wanted spread at Wrigley. The Cubs decided to allow this, and Goodman’s ashes were spread over the field. Since then fans has said they could see his ghost sitting behind home plate during Cubs games.

Another ghost said to inhabit Wrigley Field is that of Charles Grimm. Originally a first baseman for the Chicago Cubs, in 1925 Grimm became the manager for the team. During his tenure, the Cubs won three pennants and made it to the 1932 World Series played against the New York Yankees. The Yankees swept the series and some say that is why Grimms ghost can’t leave the stadium. He is still trying to win the World Series.

A number of security guards working the graveyard shift (appropriately enough) in the bullpen have said that the phones there randomly ring throughout the night and into early morning. As the phone is only programmed to ring one other, the one that goes to the manager, no one has been brave enough to answer it. It’s been suggested that the calls are being placed by Grimm who is calling in pitching changes from the great beyond.

The Iroquois Theater

It was not an unusual occurrence in the 19th century for theaters around the world to burn down. Built of wood with exits that were narrow and hard to reach, theaters of this era were also at risk due to the use of fire onstage as part of the spectacle. The Iroquois Theater in Chicago was no exception, despite being advertised as “fireproof.”

Open for only six weeks, the theater burnt down in just 15 minutes on December 30, 1903, killing over 600 people, many of them children. The building was torn down in 1926 and the Oriental Theater, now the built on the spot. Since then, many employees report hearing cries and screams in the dark and will not go into the balcony where almost no one had survived the fire, because of reported cold spots and sightings of “shadow people.”

The alleyway out back, nicknamed Death Alley, is considered the most haunted area associated with the theater. Performers, crew members and backstage visitors have spoken about ghostly child forms along with laughter, cries and footsteps, and some have said when walking down the alley they could feel a child taking their hand.

The Golden Dagger (formally the Tonic Room)

Located in North Chicago near DePaul University and Lincoln Park, the Golden Dagger which was formally called the Tonic Room has reopened following the worst of the pandemic and the ghosts that were there before are said to have remained there. The building has a dark history which may contribute to patrons getting chills when the enter.

Originally, from 1919 to 1935, the bar was a hangout for the mostly Irish North Side Gang which was the dominant mob in Chicago at the time. The archrivals of the North Side Gang was the Al Capone’s South Side Gang which was predominantly Italian.

In 1929, some of the South Siders captured seven of the North Siders, lined them up against a wall and shot them in what came to be known as the Valentine’s Day Massacre. Since then the ghosts of the men who were shot have been seen at the Golden Dagger and many employees have been shaken when seeing the shapes of several men in Jazz Age attire sitting by the bar at off hours.

The building also has a history of being a headquarters for an occult society. Begun in 1887, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was a secret occult group that carried out occult magic mixing in ancient Egyptian practices. Around 1930 another chapter of the Order practiced in the basement and they painted a pentagram on the floor and Egyptian symbols on the ceiling. An older Chicago woman claims that when she was a small child her father took her to building and during the occult service, she witnessed a woman being sacrificed. This has been related to sightings of a woman’s ghost that wanders the basement.

The new name for the bar recognizes the era of the Order of the Golden Dawn and also the Golden Dawn along with an actual skull handled ceremonial dagger found in a window well down in the basement. The dagger can be seen above the counter housed in a glass box

St. Michael’s Church

Found in Old Town, one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Chicago, is St. Michael’s Church. It is said the Church, dedicated to St. Michael an Archangel and one of the greatest enemies of Satan, has been visited by the Devil himself. This began in 1970, when congregants began forming a line for communion. When the figure approached, the minister thought he heard a bull-like snort, which caused him to look down. It was then he noticed the figure had cloven hooves instead of feet. He continued to hold out the communion wafer as a protection against the Devil. The figure then vanished. This wasn’t the last time that this happened. On several occasions congregants reported seeing a hooded figure making snorting noises during mass.

The Eastland Disaster Site

In the summer of 1915, the SS Eastland sank in the Chicago River. Over 800 people were killed. Ghost hunters have said that the trauma experienced by the passengers that day left ghostly energy behind. Spirits are thought to haunt the site. Many who have passed the area who were unaware of the disaster have reported the sudden urge to jump into the river. The building when Harpo Studios is now located served as a temporary morgue following the catastrophe. People who have put microphones against the walls have recorded voices that seemed to be talking about what happened to the Eastland that day. On the recording, a woman’s voice can be heard saying, “Died on the water ship,” and a man with an English accent saying, “It’s going down.”

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If you are interested in these and other haunted sites of Chicago, there are many ghost tours that are perfect for those interested in the paranormal history of the city. Some of the more popular ones are:

Ghosts of Lincoln Park Tour

All Ages Family Ghost Tour of Chicago

Wind and Souls Adults Only Ghost Tour of Chicago

Gangsters and Ghost Tour of Chicago

Lincoln Park Hauntings Ghost Investigation Tour

Chicago Hauntings Original Bus Ghost Tour

Devil in the White City: A Haunting History Tour

Chicago Windy City Ghosts Dark History Haunted Walking Tour

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