The City by the Lake has a reputation for being a pretty down-to-earth place, but behind every broad Midwestern facade lurks some pretty creepy stuff. We’ll take you on a journey through the supernatural underworld of the Windy City, marking the 10 scariest haunted locations in the Chicago metro area so you can investigate them for yourself.
Not surprisingly, cemeteries are great places to meet ghosts. Chicago’s most famous wandering spirit haunts the grounds of Resurrection Cemetery in the city’s South Side, and if you’re unlucky, you might just see her. Dozens of drivers have reported picking up a mysterious woman, dressed all in white, walking down Archer Avenue. If you give her a ride, she’ll ask to be let off at the cemetery gates and disappear into thin air. The story goes that Resurrection Mary was a young woman who was struck by a car in the 1920s and buried in a white dress, but unfinished business on Earth has her shade still wandering.
One of the largest nightclubs in Chicago is located in an imposing three-story Gothic building that used to be the headquarters of the Chicago Historical Society. Before then, however, it served a much darker purpose. After the SS Eastland sank in the Chicago River in 1915, killing 800 people, the building was used as a temporary morgue. It is believed that the many newly dead spirits charged the place with all kinds of negative energy. Today, clubgoers report inexplicable cold spots in the club, glasses breaking by themselves, and mysterious screams centered around the “Dome Room.”
H.H. Holmes’ Murder Castle
The 1893 World’s Fair brought lots of new people to Chicago, and Henry Holmes wanted to murder them all. The evil pharmacist constructed a hotel on the corner of 63rd Street and Wallace that was designed to not just turn a profit, but also give him access to new victims. Riddled with secret passages, trap doors and a dissecting table in the basement, Holmes murdered at least 27 unsuspecting guests between 1893 and 1894. The building was torn down and a post office was built there, but the place is hot with poltergeist action, including the moans of spectral victims and the ghost of Holmes himself, which is also rumored to visit the nearby Museum of Science and Industry.
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery
Chicago is home to the spookiest cemetery in the United States, and that’s saying a lot. Located in the Midlothian suburb, this abandoned graveyard will chill you to the bone just walking through its gates. First used as a burial ground in 1844, the last recorded burial there was in 1989. Since then, it has been used for Satanic rituals and various other creepy stuff. Visitors talk about all kinds of scary phenomena there, including light-producing ectoplasmic orbs, mysterious hooded figures and, most bizarrely, an entire phantom farmhouse that disappears if people get too close to it.
Red Lion Pub
Reports of hauntings in a bar are usually dismissed as the ramblings of drunks, but the North Side’s Red Lion Pub might be a little different. The locus of all the activity is the stained-glass window on the bar’s second floor, which was installed as a tribute to the owner’s dead grandfather. Since it was put in, patrons claim to feel dizzy and nauseous near the window, and some even say they have felt invisible hands pushing them away from it. Throw in chairs moving of their own volition and random cold spots, and you have a creepy place to get a beer.
2122 North Clark Street
Chicago’s history is inextricably linked with organized crime, and no place in the city has quite as many restless criminal ghosts as the site of a humble warehouse on North Clark. In 1929, seven North Side Gang members and associates were lined up against the rear wall of the warehouse and gunned down in what was soon called the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Nearly a century later, the warehouse has been torn down and turned into a parking lot. Locals report mysterious apparitions and, most notably, an invisible barking dog, rumored to be the ghost of a faithful hound who was chained up and witnessed all the murders.
Maryville Center for Medically Complex Children
Old hospitals are always really creepy, and Chicago’s Maryville Center is no exception. Back in the day, the place was used to house insane, drug-addicted and otherwise unwanted children. Since it closed down, it’s been a hot spot for all kinds of spooky childhood spirits. Bold souls who entered the center through broken windows reported white-robed figures in the corners of their eyes, the cries of children, horrible smells that appeared and disappeared and many other manifestations. The Center has since been torn down, which has eliminated any sightings in the area for the time being.
After the Great Chicago Fire, the West Side of the city changed from one of the most affluent areas into a haven for immigrants. One of the remaining mansions, the Hull House, was transformed into a community center by a woman named Jane Addams. She quickly discovered that the old building wasn’t without its secrets. Most notably, Mrs. Hull’s ghost was a constant presence in the house, walking the halls late at night and manifesting inside rooms. Even creepier were the rumors of the “Devil Baby,” an alleged deformed orphan that Addams had taken in that had scaly skin, hooves, horns and a tail.
John Wayne Gacy’s House
Just across the city limits in the suburb of Harwood Heights is the home of one of the grisliest serial killers in American history. John Wayne Gacy was an overweight party clown who abducted and murdered at least 28 young boys, burying their corpses in the crawlspace beneath his home. After he was put away, the house was torn down, but curiously, absolutely nothing would grow on the vacant lot, not even weeds. A new house eventually was built there and things seem to be back to normal, but it would be no surprise if some restless spirits still float around.
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Another cemetery makes the list, but this one has a very creepy phantasm indeed. The Graceland Cemetery is situated in the city’s Uptown neighborhood. Many local notables are buried there, but the one ghost hunters talk about is Inez Clarke, a little girl who was killed by lightning in 1880 at the age of 6 directly in front of her parents. They had a life-sized statue of her made and placed in a glass box on her grave. Now, people claim that on stormy nights the statue disappears from the box, only returning when the thunder and lightning stop.