Monday, September 30, 2013

Boardwalk Empire, The Joe Howard Murder Inside Story

I was watching the third season of the excellent television series “Boardwalk Empire” and need o set the record straight regarding an incident they portrayed. This is in regards to Al Capone killing a punk named Joe Howard for roughing up his friend and bagman Jake Guzik. The basic story is true they just got some of the details wrong. I know because I’d read about this killing on the Chicago Crime Scene web site.

“Al Capone arrived in Chicago in 1921, working as a street-level thug for Johnny Torrio. Capone's business acumen led to quick promotion through the ranks of the gang. His capacity for violence didn't hurt either. An incident that occurred here, at 2300 S. Wabash, on May 7, 1923, proved early on Capone's willingness to employ the gun. The following day's Tribune reported:
Another murder in the liquor and crime serial was accomplished last night. Alphonse Capone, vice lord of the south side bad lands where he is better known as Al Brown of "Four Deuces" fame, is sought as the slayer.

The order to capture Capone went out thirty minutes after the body of Joseph L. Howard, beer runner and burglar, credited with three notches on his gun, was found lying in front of the cigar counter of "Hymie" Jacobs' saloon at 2300 Wabash avenue. Howard had been shot six times, four times in the face and twice in the right shoulder.”

This clip is another in our series "Chicago Crime now & Then" check out our playlist.
I have many sources for this series but the two sites that are at the top of my list are.
Chicago Crime Scene Project.

ChiTownView is a production of MindsiMedia.  
Visit our web portal,

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Motor Row Historic District, Chicago Locomobile, Hudson, Marmon More

It looks like a sad ghost town for the most part as serious redevelopment of this area has yet to take place. That's too bad because the area is full of history beyond that regarding car dealers. Other attractions to area include Prairie St. home to some of the cities oldest mansions and at 2140 Michigan Chess studios.

Here is how one of the markers describes what was the original magnificent mile.
"In 1902 there were only 600 automobiles in the Chicagoland area. Within thirty years there were 90,000 cars. The interest in motor vehicles continued to expand rapidly with 300,000 on the road by 1935. Many of the automobiles purchased during this time frame were purchased on Chicago's Motor Row.

A gateway to opulence for the automobile industry was fashioned on south Michigan Avenue. The buildings that served as showrooms for the automobile manufacturers were custom made for every aspect of sales and service. Architects such as Christian Eckstrom, Alfred Alscheuler, Philip Maher, William Holabird, Martin Roche and Albert Kahn crafted these multi-storied structures for the repair, painting, storage and selling of the most modern advance in private transportation: the automobile.

This group of commercial buildings here on the Near South Side of Chicago is considered to be the largest, intact early automobile row in the United States. At it's peak as many as 116 different automobile manufacturers were represented within several blocks of downtown Chicago. Ford, Fiat, Buick, Cadillac, Pierce Arrow, Locomobile, Marmon and Hudson, to name a few, were displayed for the cunsumer's pleasure. The excitment and pulsating atmosphere was matched only by the smooth ride and shiny exterior of a brand new motor vehicle."

This video features four of the buildings.

The Locomobile of America Co. showrooms was at 2000 South Michigan Avenue . Designed by architects Jenny, Mundie & Jensen it opened in 1909. A three-story corner building .. of reinforced concrete trimmed in brick and terra

The Hudson Motor Showroom  is at 2222-2228 South Michigan Ave. Architect: Alfred Alschuler designed a richly decorated building with details like; H for Hudson medallions above the Palladian windows,  the twisted columns, rope modelling around the windows and more.

The Marmon Co. Showroom at 2232 South Michigan Avenue  was designed by architect: Alfred Alschuler and finished in 1922.
This Spanish-revival style building still has the company name Marmon on its terra cotta facade .. It has been renovated and converted in Marmon Grand banquet ..
Trivia: One car in the Marmon line, the Wasp, is the legendary winner of the first Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, in 1911

The Chicago Motor Club building  2400 S. Michigan Ave. Designed by  Prairie School architect Philip Maher, opened in 1936.The Chicago Motor Club building was designed and completed within 265 days in 1928 and opened January of the next year. Having been granted National Register status in 1978, the building is widely regarded as one of Chicago's finest Art Deco style skyscrapers.

In 1954 it was sold to the Chicago Defender newspaper in 1954. They filled in the basemant pool, moved in printing presses and operated out of here for forty years. It has stood vacant since 2006 and is looking pretty rundown.  It is on the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois Chicagoland Watch List

There is an extensive post about this building on the Forgotten Chicago site.

Produced for ChiTownView by MinsaiMedia. 

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Behind the Bright Lights, A Dangerous Job In 1930’s Chicago

One of my favorite films of old Chicago is one I came across on called “Behind the Bright Lights”. It takes a inside look at this massive animated sign for Chevy’s that at one time was atop a building that sits where the Prudential building is now roughly, just north of Millennium Park facing south. This sign kept a team of guys employed whose job it was to risk life and limb to climb around on it changing bulbs and whatnot. Then we go inside the sign to see how the mechanics of the animations worked in this pre digital time.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Louis Sullivan Lincoln Park Tour And Map

Louis Sullivan was the godfather of the "Chicago school" of architecture. He began as a partner of Dankmar Adler and together they helped make Chicago a center for modern building design in the late 19th century. Although two of his better known designs still stand, the Auditorium Theater and the "Carson's" building on State St., most of Sullivan's designs were torn down. In fact it was the demolition of his Garrick Theater building that helped galvanize the preservation movement in Chicago during the 1960's.

Lincoln Park on the cities near north side has a number of his surviving designs. .Including four locations that have rescued fragments from the Garrick. This clip shows three of them. We have three more videos that show the other surviving examples of his work in this area. You can find them on our Sullivan playlist.

The Ann Halsted House, 440 W. Belden Ave (1883):
This Queen Anne style home is the oldest surviving residence designed by  Adler and Sullivan.

The Ferdinand Kaufmann Store & Building, 2310 and 2312 N. Lincoln Ave.:
These  relatively nondescript buildings in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood sit side-by-side on North Lincoln Avenue. The building at 2310 was built in 1883 and 2312 came four years later.

The Leon Mannheimer House, 2147 N. Cleveland Ave. (1884):
This is another early project that Sullivan worked on.

Locations of all the Lincoln Park Sullivan's on this map.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Holy Name Cathedral Gangster Massacre, Chicago 1926

Dion O’Banion, Hymie Weiss and “Bugs” Moran were the successive leaders of the second most powerful criminal organization in Chicago during the roaring 20’s. They were the best of friends from childhood on entering and growing together a world of crime and violence. Along with James Drucci another boyhood pal they were the nucleus of the north side gang that for five years posed the only serious challenge to Al Capone.

Their decision to break the lucrative truce that had marked the first four years of prohibition touched off the five year “beer war” that was capped off on Valentine’s Day 1929. One by one these friends went down in a hail of gunfire. Except for Bugs Moran who escaped his fate on that bloody holiday. In a previous clip from our series “Chicago Crime Now and Then” we covered the 1924 hit on Dion O’Banion in his north Clark street florist shop located across the street from Holy Name Cathedral.

Following the assassination of O’Banion new head of the north side gang Hymie Weiss launched a two front counter attack. First he worked to eliminate the Genna’s, Taylor St. bootleggers responsible for the murder. He also unleashed a series of attempts to take out Al Capone. There were ambushes; his drivers were kidnapped tortured and killed. They even tried to poison him.  Capone did not just absorb these blows he fought back. He also tried negotiations but the price the north spiders wanted was too high.

So when the Weiss launched his ten car assault on the Hawthorne Hotel it was time for him to go. Within days of that spectacular attack Capone started setting up an ambush. His agents were dispatched to rent street facing rooms in the buildings that overlooked Superior and State.

On October 11, 1926 Hymie Weiss was knee deep in a plot with south side hoodlum Joe Saltis to fix a trial that could frame Al Capone for murder. He had spent most of the day watching the trial and securing a list of the jurors’ names. By 3:00 he had made the short drive from the Criminal Court Building to his office at Schofield’s. Weiss parked his car on Superior just east of State while his private investigator Ben Jacobs parked on State just south of Superior.

     Weiss his driver, bodyguard and lawyer had almost crossed State when all hell broke loose. A machine gunner followed by a shotgun on the second floor opened up on the group. Weiss and guard Patrick Murray went down fatally wounded. Lawyer William O’Brien hit several times found refuge in a stairwell.  Weiss’s driver Sam Peller and Jacobs retreated back across State under another withering volley of tommy gun fire, that left 35 holes in the Cathedral, before finding safety behind the building.

   The final toll was two dead three wounded with no arrests. Hymie Weiss was dead before he was thirty.

For more on Henry Earl J. Wojciechowski AKA Hymie Weiss the man Al Capone feared more than anyone check out this link.

This clip is another in our series "Chicago Crime now & Then" check out our playlist.

I have many sources for this series but the two sites that are at the top of my list are.

Chicago Crime Scene Project. 

ChiTownView is a production of MindsiMedia we have a web portal that offers more video,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Louis Sullivan Faces of Lincoln Park

Back in May I posted a couple of clips of some Louis Sullivan designs  I found wandering around Lincoln Park. Including these terra cotta heads above the entrance to Second City. As it turns out they were remains of the Garrick or Schiller theater designed by Louis Sullivan. Second City founder  Bernie Sahlins rescued four of the dozen or so busts. So I posted the video then a couple of weeks ago I was in that area again and found to more heads that looked very familiar embedded in a wall on the 800 block of north Dearborn.

Upon further investigation it turns out that are two more fences in Lincoln Park that have heads from the Garrick theater. So besides the ones on Dearborn on this clip we have heads from the 2100 block of north Lincoln and the 2400 block of Geneva Terrace. If you have a healthy pair of legs and a couple of hours you can stroll around this lovely area and see them all. By the way the sculptor of these was Richard Bock.

As for who they are well that's another story one that is told on The Errant Inquisitor site. Where you will find the whole story this guy (I'm guessing) did a lot of research so I'll let him tell you the story. 

Produced for ChiTownView by MindsiMedia
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Friday, September 13, 2013

Fidel Castro At The Lincoln Memorial

In the 1950’s revolutionaries across the world who were looking to throw off the chains of colonialism looked to the United States and our revolution for inspiration.  The world’s expectations had been raised. World War Two had been billed as a war to free people from fascist enslavement. The United States of America had made the world safe for democracy. Or had it?

Following the Second World War the political leadership of the US was more interested in securing our strategic position across the globe than helping revolutionaries. It was more important to spread capitalism than political self determination. We would support democratic movements but only those that were moving in our direction. The cold war was hot and Communism even the threat of it must be confronted.
Fidel Castro was a populist leader who overthrew a military regime that gained power through a coupe. One of his biggest heroes was Abraham Lincoln he kept a bust of him in his office. After seizing power he came to the US looking for support. Sadly Eisenhower had already written him off do to his nationalization policies and refused to see him. While in Washington he left a wreath at the Lincoln Memorial.
For almost sixty years the US has had one constant enemy Castro & Cuba. My question is why? What threat does he pose to America?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Columbian Exposition 1893, A Visit To Chicago's White City

Hailed by many as the greatest world's fair of all times Chicago's 1893 World Columbian Exposition took place a little more than twenty years after the Great Chicago Fire. It was a mixture of modern science and native peoples. A true workd's fair filled with exhibits that appealed to our noble pursuits and low exhibitions that stoke our base natures.

This slideshow gives us a look at some of the majestic exhibitions that were presented at this singular event. Most of the photos available were centered on the south end  where the larger buildings were congregated. We take a look at the midway and a ride on the Ferris Wheel before entering the fair. Once we get on top of the Liberal Arts Building we look south then move from east to west then turn north before circling back.

"The Devil In The White City" by Eric Larsen  is a great book and gives the history behind  the Columbian Exposition of 1893.

There are a couple of great maps that we provide links to.
The Chicago Encyclopedia has this one we used to place the photos.

This one is of the Midway Plaisance is from the ITT library.

The photos are from the Library of Congress and are all public domain.

The music is "Intuition" by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons "Attribution 3.0""

Produced for ChiTownView by MindsiMedia. Visit our web portal at

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

North Clark Street Murder of Dion O'Banion Touches Off Chicago Gang War

The first major assassination in the Chicago beer wars occurred here across from Holy Name Cathedral. On this block used to be Schofiled's Florist the headquarters of the north side mob. And in November 1924 it was the scene of the brutal murder of Dion O’Banion leader of that gang.
Charles Dean O'Banion was born in the lovely north side neighborhood known as “little hell” on July 8 1892.Dion was a renaissance man a gangster, a singer and a man with a passion for flower arranging. And like many passions it was to be his undoing.

His friends as a youth were Earl "Hymie" WeissVincent"The Schemer" Drucci, and George "Bugs" Moran. They grew and engaged in a wide variety of criminal activity and by 1920 they were the most feared gang on the north side. The advent of prohibition would only increase their power.
Since the beginning of prohibition the competing gangs had divided the city into territories and they had peacefully gone about their illegal enterprise. There was peace but also tension and following the election of reform mayor William Deaver in 1923 pressure increased. After that election Capone moved his organization to Cicero and took over the town turning it into a goldmine.
Where ever gold is discovered a rush is sure to follow and Cicero was no different. O’Banion wanted a cut of the action. Which he got but he kept pushing for more and scheming to set up Torrio. First he tried to frame Torrio for the murder of John Duffy an out of town gangster. A murder his own gang had committed. After that he set Torrio up and succeeded in having him arrested in the Siebens brewery raid.

At the same time he was waging a war with Taylor street bootleggers the Terrible Genna’s. Suppliers to Al Capone they had begun encroaching on O’Banions north side territory. The only thing keeping O’Banion alive is that  Unione Siciliana head Mike Merlo refused to sanction the hit.  Merlo had along with Torrio been instrumental in setting up the truce that had everybody so rich and powerful. But by late 1928 he was suffering from cancer and was about to become the rare head of the Union to die a natural death while in office.

On November 3 O’Banion got in a heated phone argument with Mike Genna over a gambling debt owed to O’Banion. Who gave Genna week to pay. On November 8th Merlo died and two days later the debt was paid with lead.

Following the death of any local gangster Schofield's was where all the hoods went to order their flower arrangements. So it wasn’t unusual when  John Scalise and Albert Anselmi, top gunmen for the Genna mob and  Frankie Yale a Brooklyn gunman and Capone ally came in to order arrangements for Menlo’s funeral. When Yale took O’Banions hand to shake it he held the hand as the other the other two drew pistols and emptied them into O’Banion. This starts the five year “beer war” that culminates five years later on St Valentine ’s Day.