Sunday, March 22, 2009

Capone's Tunnels

It's always interesting to learn about Uptown's storied past and secrets. So we were glad when a reader wrote in: "Hello UU. I was watching Lost Worlds on the History Channel about Capone's Chicago and they showed this aerial photo of the tunnels that run under the Lawrence/Broadway area. I have been looking for something like this for a while, so I downloaded the episode and made a screen shot of the image. Pretty cool stuff, I wonder how accurate it is. Maybe the owners of Shake Rattle and Read and the Green Mill can confirm."

If you're curious to see more, a short clip of the show can be seen here (Uptown is at the 3:30 point), or you can order the DVD here (among other places). Sadly, the show's not on the History Channel's tv schedule for the foreseeable future. Photo credits: Lost Worlds: Al Capone's Secret City


  1. There is another show on the History channel that has pretty interesting info on the old Mob tunnels of Chicago.

    Cities of the Underworld "Mob Underground"

    The whole episode is not on the HC website but I did find it on iTunes for $2.

    Cool stuff!

  2. I have no doubt Capone had tunnels running under the streets of Uptown... but the logic behind some of the tunnels illustrated in this map seems a little wonky. (Granted I have no idea what's under the streets and what they might have to dig around)

  3. There are tunnels. They are extensive. Jim Jemilo from the Green Mill has traveled some of should ask him...some are bricked off...I guess they go from the Green Mill to the Aragon, Riviera, and to the triangular buiding newly renovated and other places...I don't know that they were build strickly for booze, but probably were some kind of service tunnel maybe with rails where goods are dropped off from above and then go to the various locations...there are a lot of tunnels down town I believe....

  4. Ric Addy's video tour of the Uptown tunnels can be seen here:

    Ric Addy

    And one that Fox News did a few years ago:

    Fox New.

  5. ...and they did a segment on this on the late, lamented "Wild Chicago" with Ben Hollis.

  6. The Green Mill's tunnels were featured in another History Channel production and they are pretty extensive.

    Although not in Uptown, Murphy's Bleachers (formerly Ray's Bleachers at Sheffield & Waveland) is connected to at least the two adjoining buildings south on Sheffield through the basement. The entrance can be seen behind the front bar underneath the old-time, unused cash register.

  7. No one ever seems to mention that this was not Capone's territory...Nevertheless, I saw and photographed the alleged western terminus in the basement of the Rainbo Gardens. It was blocked up with a lot of voltage running from it -- essentially a utility chase running from east to west.

  8. Andy, we did mention it was unusual for Capone to be welcome on the North Side in our
    Valentine's Day "salute"
    to Jack McGurn. A friend of mine is a tour guide who just took a group through Uptown on a gangster tour, and he told me they were amazed Capone didn't "own" all of Chicago. She was happy to enlighten them. ;-)

  9. Not sure if I am doing this properly. I am looking for any information regarding "Diamond Louis Cowan" He was a billionaire in boom times and also a key player in the Chicago mob. He was shot to death in front of the Clifford Theatre in the month of October sometime between 1930 and 1940 I believe. With his bodygaurd Joseph Corngold at his side. He was a bailbondsman and was believed to be killed by the Nitti mob. He also owned the Cicero Tribune and a large portion of the racetrack. Any information is helpful, Thank You, Kim (I am the great-grandaughter of Diamond Louis)

  10. Kim,

    I hope this gets to you some way (you didn't leave an email address).

    I am Louis Cowen's (not Cowan) great grand son. Is Mildred your great grandmother? I am his great grandson by his first wife, Sarah. There is only one other great grand child that I know of and she's adopted.

    Email me and we can talk.

  11. M family had a building in pilsen neighborhood ....and it was a Hotdog aunt told me a very old lady customers use to tell her stories of dating a member of Al Capone..and the old lady claimed her boyfriend way back then said there were tunnel from pilsen to downtown..the building is across from SAINT PRECOPIOUS CHURCH..18th an allport...