Thursday, November 1, 2012


On October 6th, we embarked on a tour through some of Chicago's most historic and violent moments in time. Craig Pfannkuche gave a colorful tour of Chicago's underbelly. While our bus made its way through the city, he told tales of labor riots, crooked politicians, serial killers, mob strongholds and demises, police and citizen clashes. We visited lesser known historic sites and shared our family histories.  Some people remembered an old song the children used to sing about Adolph Luetgert, the man who murdered his wife in his sausage factory.  Another person had a great uncle that was "hit" by the mob.  

Below is a blog post written by Pat Biallas, who joined us on the tour.  She writes the blog Geneajourneys, and she did a wonderful recap of some of the things we saw on the tour that day.

“Dark Alleys” Enlighten Chicago History Enthusiasts

Chicago’s Biograph Theater as it looks today. (Photo by Linda Kirsininkas)

What did Chicago’s Biograph Theater, Our Lady of Angels School and the Union Stockyards have in common last Saturday? Any guesses?
All were stops on a marvelous tour entitled “Dark Alleys of Chicago” sponsored by the Chicago Genealogical Society.  The focus of the outing was to give local history enthusiasts an opportunity to visit the notorious, infamous and macabre sites that make up the dark side of Chicago’s history.  You know ~ the ones you’d never see advertised in those slick advertising brochures marketed to traditional Chicago tourists. And who could resist a tour like that ~ especially in the month of October ~ when ghosts, hauntings, murder and mayhem seem to be the order of the day all month long?

The Biograph in 1934 where John Dillinger, “Public Enemy #1″was finally gunned down by the FBI. (Photo courtesy of the FBI)

Well, I couldn’t resist and neither could my longtime friend Linda Kirsininkas whom I have to thank for the present day tour photos featured in today’s post.
Among our stops? Sites of the St.Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929;  theBiograph theater where notorious bank robberJohn Dillinger was gunned down by authorities in 1934;  and The Four Deuces – the speakeasy, brothel and headquarters run by gangster Al Capone in the late 1920s and early 30′s.
Other points of interest?
Stops and drive-bys included  Jane Addams Hull House on the UIC campus; sites of theHaymarket rebellion, the Everleigh sisters turn-of-the-century brothel in the old Levee District, and a stop by the old Chicago stockyards, center of the 1919 labor riots ~ all mere bullet points (no pun intended!) on a very short course in Chicago History.

Our Lady of Angels Catholic school during the 1958 fire that cost nearly 100 lives and changed fire safety codes for schools nationwide. (Photo courtesy of Our Lady of Angels website)
We also passed by Our Lady of Angels school where a devastating fire killed nearly 100 children and  teachers; the street corner where Richard Speck, renowned for killing eight student nurses  in the late 1960s, was captured by police; and Washington Square Park where serial killer John Wayne Gacy was known to pick up his victims in the 1970s before completing his ghoulish crimes.

Our Lady of Angels Church today. The school building that replaced the one that burned in 1958 is to the left of the church. (Photo by Linda Kirsininkas)
There are colorful (and lengthy) tales to be told for each site visited last weekend. The photos and captions displayed below, though, will offer a glimpse into some of the fabled stories that dot the Dark Alleys of Chicago.
So please, come along and enjoy this virtual tour into Chicago’s past (that is, if you dare!)