ST. VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE – On February 14, 1929, it was 15 degrees below zero when a black Cadillac disguised as a police squad car, pulled up in front of the "Bugs" Moran S-M Garage here at 2122 N. Clark at ten-thirty a.m. Shortly after five men, dressed in police uniforms, got out of the car and entered the garage, machine gun blasts could be heard coming from the building. Two minutes later, the men came back out, climbed into the Cadillac, drove south on Clark to Ogden, then southwest on Ogden to North Avenue where it turned west. Inside the warehouse, seven men lay dead at the foot of the rear wall. All had been drilled with bullets. Blood slopped down the brick wall. Some of the bodies were held together only by shreds of flesh and bone. The dead were identified as gangster brothers, Frank and Pete Gusenberg, gangsters James Clark, Adam Heyer, Al Weinshank, and Johnny May, and an optometrist, Reinhardt Schwimmer. Moran blamed the massacre on Al Capone.
UPDATE – It was later learned that three of the killers had cased the garage from rooming house windows at 2119 and 2125 N. Clark. The garage was torn down in 1967. The blood-stained wall was dismantled and rebuilt in Canada. The site is now a small park next to a senior housing home.
HOME OF BUGS MORAN – Gangsters George "Bugs" Moran, Henry Gusenberg, and optometrist Reinhardt Schwimmer all lived here at the Parkway Hotel at 2100 Lincoln Park West at the time of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929. Schwimmer was one of those killed during the massacre. Just before the shooting began in the garage on Clark Street, Moran left his apartment here and headed for the garage by taking a shortcut through the alley. But he turned around when he saw a police squad car sitting in front of the garage.
BUGS MORAN KILLS "BLOODY" ANGELO – On March 25, 1925, while driving his shiny, new, $6,000 roadster south on Ogden Avenue, "Bloody Angelo" Genna was followed by gangsters Hymie Weiss, "Bugs" Moran, and Vincent "The Schemer" Drucci. When Genna's car ran into a lamppost here at the corner of Ogden and Hudson, the trio blasted him with sawed-off shotguns. He died with $30,000 in his pocket that he was going to use to buy a home for his bride of five months.
FAN DANCER LEAPS TO HER DEATH – In 1930, Faith Bacon was the toast of Broadway. Her act consisted if two swirling ostrich fans and a smokey spotlight. She sometimes used flowers and bubbles. In 1933, Faith competed with Sally Rand as fan dancers at the World's Fair. Her star faded after the Fair, and by the late 1930s she was a has-been. In 1954, she tried to kill herself by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. In August of 1956, Faith came to Chicago from Erie, PA., and checked into the Alan Hotel here at 2004 Lincoln Park West. She looked for work, but could not even find a job in the sleazy strip joints on skid row. Shortly after midnight on September 26, 1946, as a depressed Miss Bacon, 47, was walking down the stairs of the hotel between the fourth and third floors, she suddenly opened a window, and as a friend grabbed at her skirt, she tore loose and jumped out the window. Her body landed on the roof of a one-story saloon next door.
UPDATE – Besides a pair of rented fans, her effects included 85 cents and a train ticket to Erie, PA. When relatives could not be located, the American Guild of Variety Artists claimed her body and arranged for burial
DILLINGER'S GIRLFRIEND – Polly Hamilton was with John Dillinger at the Biograph Theater on the night he was ambushed and killed by the FBI in 1934. She fled the scene of the shooting, left the city and went into hiding. She later returned to Chicago to work as a waitress, and married a Chicago salesman named William Black. Going by the name Edythe Black, she lived here at 1942 N. Mohawk with her husband until her death on February 19, 1969.
JOHN DILLINGER KILLED – On the afternoon of Sunday, July 22, 1934, Anna Sage called FBI agent Melvin Purvis and told him that she, John Dillinger, and his girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, would attend the Biograph Theater that evening at 2433 Lincoln Ave. Anna said she would be wearing a white blouse and a bright orange skirt. When Dillinger and the two women arrived at the Biograph about 8:30, more than 20 FBI agents including Purvis, were staked out in doorways and alleys around the theater. It was 10:35 p.m. when Dillinger came out of the theater with Anna and Polly walking on either side of him. Purvis, who was standing in the first store doorway south of the theater, lit his cigar after Dillinger passed him, a signal to the other agents that it was indeed Dillinger. When the agents began to move in, Dillinger suddenly ran toward the alley in a partial crouch. Three agents fired at Dillinger after he refused to stop when Purvis commanded him to halt. One bullet went through his left side. Another tore into his back and came out just below his right eye. He dropped, his feet still on the sidewalk, his head in the alley. Purvis leaned over and spoke to Dillinger. There was no answer. Dillinger died five minutes later.
UPDATE – The Biograph and the alley were still there in 2004.
THE LADY IN RED – Dillinger, Anna Sage, 42, “The Lady in Red.” her son Steve Chiolak, 23, and Polly Hamilton, 26, all lived together here in Sage's apartment at 2420 Halsted. It was from here that Dillinger and the two women walked to the Biograph Theater on July 22. Dillinger was a familiar figure in the neighborhood. He frequented the corner ice cream parlor and dined at the nearby Seminary restaurant. New development is now on the site.
MCGURN SLITS THROAT OF JOE E. LEWIS – On October 15, 1927, comedian Joe E. Lewis told the owner of the Green Mill Cafe that he was leaving to work at the New Rendezvous Cafe. The next day, gangster Machine Gun Jack McGurn, part owner of the green Mill, met Joe outside the Commonwealth Hotel at 2757 Pine Grove Ave. where had Joe had lived for seven years, and told him You'll never live to open. Joe grinned and told him, “I open on November 2, I'll reserve a table for you,” then walked away.
About 10:15 on the morning of November 9, there was knock at the door of Lewis' 10th floor room here in the hotel. When Lewis opened the door, three men brushed past him and closed the door. One of the men hit Joe on the back of head with his gun, knocking him to the floor where two men hammered his skull with the butt of their guns until he was unconscious. The third man pulled out a hunting knife and punched the blade into Joe's left jaw as far as he could, then ripped his throat from ear to ear. Then he sliced Joe's throat twelve more times. Fifteen minutes later, Lewis was rushed to the Columbus Hospital three blocks away at 2548 Lakeview. Surgery saved his live, but he lost his ability to speak. It was well known that the attack was ordered by Machine Gun Jack McGurn in retaliation of Joe's refusal to appear at McGurn's Green Mill night club.
UPDATE – Six days after Lewis was attacked, the thug who had sliced Lewis' throat, was found shot to death in a south side alley. A few months later, the other two thugs were also found shot to death. Gangster Vincent The Schemer Drucci, a friend of Lewis, lived on the eighth floor here at he time of the attack. In 1933, Dr. Harold Cassidy and Dr. Wilhelm Loeser were living here when they performed plastic surgery on the face of John Dillinger.
JOE E. LEWIS MAKES COMEBACK – On January 28th, less than eleven weeks after his throat was slashed, Joe E. Lewis opened again at the Rendezvous here at 622 Diversey while bodyguards stood on the roof across the street to protect him. The place was sold out. Ted Healy, of Three Stooges fame and Sophie Tucker canceled other engagements to be in the show with him.
UPDATE – In 1924, coronetist Bix Beiderbecke played here in the Charlie Straight band. He lived next door at the Rienzi Hotel. During this time, Louis Armstrong recorded some of his early records in the back room that was lined with burlap bags - it was called the Potato-sack studio. Mugsy Spainer got started here in the band that played after 2 a.m., and Glenn Miller played here with the Ben Pollack Orchestra in 1925.
GANGSTER HOME – Gang leader Dion O'Bannon lived here in the Brewster Apartments at 2800 Pine Grove in 1929. O'Bannion also lived at 448 Surf at one time.
DILLINGER'S GIRLFRIEND – Evelyn Billie Frechette, girlfriend of John Dillinger was living here at 640 Wrightwood when police raided her apartment looking for Dillinger on March 15,1993.
SON OF MA BARKER ARRESTED – Arthur Doc Barker, son of gang leader, Ma Barker,was arrested here in his apartment at 432 Surf on January 8, 1935.
DILLINGER PAL ARRESTED – Hilton Crouch, a member of the Dillinger gang was arrested in his apartment here at 420 Surf on December 23, 1933.
DILLINGER HIDEOUT – John Dillinger used an apartment here at 434 Wellington as a hideout after he escaped from the Crown Point, Indiana jail in 1933. He was living here with his girlfriend Evelyn Frechette.
HOME OF BLOODY ANGELO – Gangster Bloody Angelo Genna and his wife Lucille Spinola moved into the Belmont Hotel here at 3156-72 in 1925 after they were married. He was living here when he was shot and killed at the corner of Ogden and Hudson. Opera singer Mary Garden stayed here in the Belmont whenever she was in town.
UNTOUCHABLES RAID CAPONE LIQUOR WAREHOUSE – In 1929, Elliot Ness and The Untouchables, raided a garage here at 3419 N. Clark that Al Capone used to store his illegal liquor. Under a drainage outlet in the floor, they found a twelve-foot chamber that contained 100 cases of imported liquors worth $15,000.
THE LADY IN RED – Anna Sage, The Lady in Red, lived here in an apartment at 3324 N. Clark in 1933. She also managed the Sheffield Hotel at 3504 N. Clark the same year.
DILLINGER HIDEOUT - John Dillinger, Harry Pierpont, and Evelyn Billie Frechette, hid out for a short time here in an apartment at 901 Addison in November of 1933.
CHICAGO'S TOP 26 GIRL MURDERED – On February 2, 1943, Estelle Carey, Chicago's richest and most famous 26 Girl, rolled snake eyes. The former ex-model was found murdered here in her third-floor, five-bedroom apartment at 512 W. Addison by firemen who came to put out a fire. She was naked except for a red housecoat that had been soaked with lighter fluid and set on fire. Evidence showed that she had been tortured with an ice pick, a knife, and brass knuckles. Her nose was broken, several of her teeth had been knocked out, and she had a cut across her throat that had been made with a razor. Estelle worked for her boyfriend, syndicate big shot Nicky Dean. Dean and his friend Al Capone, owned the Yacht Club on Rush Street. Her killer has never been found.
THE SWEETHEART OF CHICAGO – The Bismarck Gardens, a huge restaurant and beer hall, that featured European bands and 75-piece orchestras, was located at the southwest corner of Grace, Halsted, and Broadway in 1917. It featured European bands, 75-piece orchestras, outside dining with walks, bridges, trees, grass, and a miniature zoo. When WWI began, the name was changed to Marigold Gardens, a nightclub with floor shows. Singing star Ruth Etting started her career here in 1919 as a chorus girl. In 1922, while married to gangster Moe The Gimp Snyder (she met Snyder here at the Gardens), she returned to the Marigold as a singing star, and was known as The Sweetheart of Chicago. Joe Louis fought one of his first fights here on July 4, 1934. Middleweight champ Tony Zale also fought here, as did Barney Ross. In 1942, Jack Ruby, the man who shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, was a regular here at the fights.
UPDATE – The site is now a parking lot. The only thing left of the Gardens is the dance hall complex that has been converted to other uses. Ruth Etting went on to introduce the songs, Button Up Your Overcoat, Mean to Me, You're the Cream in My Coffee, Good Night Sweetheart, and Ten Cents a Dance. In 1955, Doris Day and James Cagney starred in the film Love Me or Leave Me, the story of her life.
BUGS MORAN GAMBLING CLUB – George Bugs Moran and Julian Potatoes Kaufman opened the posh and elegant Sheridan Wave Tournament Club here at 653 Waveland on June 9, 1930. Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle owned 10 percent of the club. Two weeks before the club opened, Lingle demanded more - Moran refused. Lingle told him If this joint is opened up, you're going to see more squad cars in front ready to raid it than you ever saw in your life. Two weeks later Lingle was dead. He was gunned down in the Loop on June 9, the day the club opened. (see the Loop section for details of the killing).
BUGS MORAN HANGOUT – The Wigwam Bar here in the Marigold Hotel at 817 Grace was a hangout for the Bugs Moran gang in the 1920s.
DION O'BANNION APARTMENT – Gangster O'Bannion and his wife Viola moved into an apartment here at 3600 Pine Grove after they were married on February 5, 1921. O'Bannion had a $15,000 piano in the living room.
1938 CUB HOME RUN CHAMP – During the 1930s, the Carlos Hotel here at 3834 Sheffield was the home of Chicago Cub player and home run champ Hack Wilson. Every time he hit a home run, a local jeweler awarded him a wrist watch. Wilson would sit at the bar here and buy everyone drinks with the watches he received.
MA BARKER AND FBI SHOOT IT OUT – The Ma Barker-Alvin Karpis gang was hiding out here in an apartment at 3920 Pine Grove in January of 1935 when they had a gun battle with the FBI. One gang member was killed, another captured, but Ma and “Creepy” Al Karpis escaped.
MURDER MAN “CATCH ME BEFORE I KILL MORE” – On December 10, 1945, William Heirens killed Francis Brown, 33, here in her apartment #611 in the Pine Crest Hotel at 3941 Pine Grove. Miss Brown was found draped over the edge of the bathtub face down with her legs parted, a long, slender knife had been driven straight through her throat from side to side and left in place. On the living room wall was a message written in lipstick: For Heaven's sake, catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself. In January of 1945, Heirens killed and cut up six-year-old Suzanne Degnan at 5943 Kenmore.
DILLINGER HANGOUT – John Dillinger hung out here at the Sheridan Billiard House at 3925 Sheridan in 1933.
DILLINGER'S MOUTHPIECE – Louis Piquett, John Dillinger's lawyer, died of a heart attack here in his apartment at 661 W. Sheridan in 1951. Piquet and his wife also lived in an apartment at 659 Irving Park in 1934.