WBEZ brings you fact-based news and information. Sign up for our newsletters to stay up to date on the stories that matter.Maybe you haven’t been so lucky in love and perhaps the holiday stirs up feelings of disappointment and downright frustration. Well then, you might be happy to know that today isn’t just a day for lovers, it’s also the anniversary of one of Chicago’s bloodiest historical moments. Eight Forty-Eight’s Eilee Heikenen-Weiss has the story.
Walk past the 2100 block of North Clark Street, and you’ll find a snow-covered lot nestled between a retirement center and a brick apartment building. A handful of trees watch over the lot and cars await their owners. Seems like any other parcel of land in Lincoln Park…unless you know its history.
MELVOIN-BERG: The major thing that we pick up here is grief, and almost a sense of regret-anger over being killed at this spot. And what we think is that it’s the men that were actually shot here.
That’s Ken Melvoin-Berg. He’s the co-owner of Weird Chicago, a tour company that takes visitors to some of Chicago’s most mysterious spots. This is one of them. Where we stand is the site of the Valentine’s Day Massacre. Almost 80 years ago, a warehouse that stood on this very site was a bloody and gruesome scene. History tells us that Al Capone’s men killed seven others in a flurry of gun shots. Sound of shots
The intended target was rival gang leader, George Bugs Moran. Capone lured Bugs to pick up a shipment of illegal booze. But it was his henchmen who were literally busted. The warehouse was razed in 1967. Any ghosts who appear here now, do so in the shadow of a senior housing facility, and its residents are often privy to these apparitions. Melvoin-Berg says one woman encountered phantom gangsters in her room.
MELVOIN-BERG: Then they moved her out of the room b/c she was quite upset about the gangsters who had been randomly coming in, and then another gentleman came in who didn’t have dimensia, who saw the exact same thingâ€”gangster, fedora hat, double-breasted pin-stripe suit.
He adds that residents south of the massacre site have experienced supernatural activity as well.
MELVOIN-BERG: If you take a look over to the left area where there is still an existing building, that was there, from there all the way to the back alley, people heard phantom tommy guns reported about a week after the massacre, all the way up to the present day, people still hear this, what is called an audio apparition, of a Thompson submachine gun going off.
Melvion-Berg has investigated these audio ghosts, and gotten mixed results. He says credible witnesses have given consistent answers, but the audio recordings he’s analyzed don’t match up.
MELVOIN-BERG: We did hear something that sounded vaguely like Charly Brown’s teacher something like wa wa wa thing, but not enough to actually think that this was a legitimate phenomena at the time we’d done the recording.
Tony Sabatino lives next to the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre site. When I ask him about hearing or seeing anything strange, the only noise he mentions is the squealing coming from the bearings on his furnace.
So is the site actually haunted or not?
MELVOIN-BERG: No, I don’t think it’s haunted, but I do think it’s a great story.
Melvoin-Berg is quick to add that he does believe in ghosts, it’s just that this particular site isn’t haunted. He says its still worthy of the tour, though.
MELVOIN-BERG: Even if there isn’t a single ghost here, it’s interesting enough for us to come here b/c of the history of this place, because it is alive in the imaginations of the people of Chicago.
According to Melvoin-Berg, the Chicago-area is home to some of the most haunted spots in the nationâ€”like the Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery and where the Iroquois Theater Distaster happened. Even though the site may not be haunted, but he’s still excited for Valentine’s Day. Legend has it that on snowy anniversaries, you can see the outline of the bodies in the snow. He’ll be there to find out what happens.