Chicago's Most Haunted - Congress Plaza

Chicago’s Most Haunted: #1 Congress Plaza Hotel

October 11, 2013 | Best Cities, Best Cities and Neighborhoods

By Jacob Rice

Missed #2, #3, #4 or #5 on this list? Read about Bachelor’s Grove CemeteryHull HouseResurrection Cemetery and Manteno State Hospital.

Chicago’s Most Haunted #1: The Congress Plaza Hotel at 520 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago, Illinois

“The Congress,” as the hotel is known in town, has seen its fair share of negative events. It was built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (now World’s Fair) to show how Chicago had bounced back from The Great Fire of 1871. Unfortunately, Dr. H.H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer, used it to find young women looking to work in his pharmacy. He’d meet young ladies in the lobby; then kill them in his torture castle a few blocks away. The Congress also served as home to Al Capone, who had a suite on the 8th floor of the north tower. Capone’s spirit is thought to haunt it to this very day.

Haunted hallway at Congress Plaza Hotel

Capone’s not the only spirit haunting the hallways of the north tower. There’s also the mischievous, boy spirit on the 6th floor. In the 1930s, a young, Polish mother came to Chicago with her two sons. She was supposed to wait for her husband to arrive and then they’d start their new life on the city’s northside. He never came. The depressed mother threw herself and children out of a 6th floor window to their deaths. However, the body of one of the boys never made it to the city morgue. He’s thought to play tricks on guests staying on the 6th floor.

Did I mention the spirits in the Gold Room and Florentine Room? Both banquet halls have a few surprises for the unsuspecting wedding guest. The Gold Room is home to the “Hand of Mystery.” Apparently, a worker got trapped behind a wall when it was plastered shut. He suffocated to death. Now, you can see his ghostly hand reach out from behind the wall in the coat closet.  In the Florentine Room, people sitting alone have heard a female ghost whisper in their ear. At night, the security team has reported the shifting of chairs, numerous knocks and someone talking, even though it’s locked and empty.

Peg Leg Johnny has to be the goofiest spirit roaming the halls. He was a hobo, who had an untimely death at the hotel. He’s been known to turn appliances and lights on and off. Johnny is the most active spirit, and he roams both towers and the lobby. Johnny’s still looking to have a little bit of fun.

Doorway under infrared light at Congress Plaza

Then there’s the creepiest place in the entire hotel: Room 441. No other hotel room in the city gets more calls to security or the front desk. Located in the south tower, a female specter haunts Room 441. Witnesses say she manifests as a shadow at the foot of your bed. She then kicks it to wake you. We don’t know how this spirit came to haunt the room. As far as we know, no one committed suicide or killed anybody there. Anyway, this scary lady wants the room for herself. You’ve been warned.

 

Why is the Congress Plaza Hotel #1 on the list?

Unlike the other locations on this list, there are no restrictions if you want to stay the night and run an investigation. You can even stay in the notorious Room 441.

Ghost Hunting Tips

haunted stairwell at Congress Hotel in downtown Chicago

The south tower is the most active location in my experience. You want to take the stairwells between floors because they have a lot of ghostly activity. Security seems to be very friendly and you can ask them to let you see the Gold Room. It’s on the mezzanine of the south tower. However, they will not let you enter the Florentine Room once it’s closes for the night. I found the 3rd and 4th floors to be the best spots for getting evidence. Other investigators claim the 12th floor of the south tower is the most active area for ghostly evidence. You can’t go wrong with the south tower.

The north tower has some additional haunted locations like the sealed Room 666. Unfortunately, the north tower has very old electrical wiring and Wi-Fi hotspots that give false readings on ghost detecting equipment. It may be better to rely on audio capture, also known as EVP, in this tower. If you can get one, use an infrared camera to take pictures. It adds an extra-something to your ghostly photos. You could get some surprising evidence.

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