An October 2006 trip
to Chicago by nmagann
Quote: One part sentimental journey from a bygone era with one part gangster haunting makes for a bang up concoction.
Attraction | "The Field Museum "
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 21, 2006
1400 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605
600 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611
My sentimental journey included seeing the Aragon Ballroom where my folks, who met in Chicago, dance away the nights. Address in hand, I caught the red line. For once the phrase "you can’t miss it" was correct. The huge sign could be seen from inside the rail car. The ballroom was literally across the street from the station.Built in 1929 this 4-storey high building consumed the small on which it was located. Designed to resemble a Spanish palace, the decor included chandeliers, mosaic tiles, archways and balconies. Eight thousand walked the doors on opening night. The Aragon with a floor 110’ by 175’ was considered the most beautiful dance hall in America and played host to the likes of Sinatra, Dorsey, and Miller.The semi-formal dress code required men to be in tie and jackets. Of course many servicemen in uniform filled the room. This elegant atmosphere prohibited close dancing and employed ushers to enforce the rule.In 1955 a cocktail lounge next door caught fire and a subsequent explosion blew a hold in the side of the Aragon. New owners in 1964 turned it into a skating rink and in 1965 it hosted boxing and wrestling sporting events. In 1966 it became a disco for a year before finally being returned to ballroom grandeur only to be unsuccessful.
An interesting side note, I walked around a few nearby blocks admiring the old buildings. I came across some old diners, the Riviera (a large single screen cinema), and the Green Mill a popular jazz club with the mobsters. Could my parents have been in the same places as "Bugs" Moran, "Scarface" Capone, or maybe "Johnny" Torrino who was alive right up until 1957?
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 21, 2006
1106 West Lawrence Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60640
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 21, 2006
600 North Clark St.
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Attraction | "Untouchable Tours P2"
The life and death of John Dillinger, the famous bank robber has some intriguing twists that read like mystery novel. He had the dubious distinction of having robbed more banks in one year than Jesse James did in his entire career. He was not unpopular with Chicagoans. In fact, they viewed him as a modern day Robin Hood. This inflamed the government and made them determined to get him. More determined than the fact he had robbed 6 banks, killed 2 cops and FBI agents, slipped 6 traps, and escaped jail 6 times all in the span of a year!!!A set-up had Dillinger and his girlfriend departing the Biograph Theater wherein an FBI agent identified himself and told him to surrender. Pulling out a gun and running towards the alley, the agent shot him.Coincidentally, Dillinger had had plastic surgery a few months before. Was it really Dillinger? Was the FBI agent double-crossed by the girlfriend? Seeing the corpse, his father claimed it wasn’t his son. Dillinger’s doctor denied he had a heart condition, as did the body in the morgue. On the other hand, the FBI said the fingerprints were indeed those of Dillinger. Yet, the weapon in their display case that was supposedly drawn on the agent had been manufactured 6 months after his death. Did he really brandish a weapon?While gangsters lived extravagant it was often cautious as well. It also invertible meant a gruesome and untimely death akin to making a pact with the devil. Compared to his peers, such was not the case with Al Capone.Eventually winding up in Alcatraz on charges of tax evasion, while the famed Elliot Ness worked on evidence of prohibition violations. At Alcatraz his days of running things from prison ended and he spent much of his time in the sick ward. Released early, he died in a hospital from syphilis.
Movies, television programs, and the news can be so graphic, but nothing compares to the photos from the bloody crime scenes and morgues. This is just some of the findings in the "Chicago Gang Wars" book I received on the tour. It is complete with actual newspaper articles and captions.