Today’s Deceptive Yet Truly Morbid Fact!
Al Capone, a brutally raw man in his twenties, became crime overlord of Chicago during the 1920s. His power was disputed by the Irish gangs of Chicago’s North side. Their leader, Dion O’Banion, a florist, had been shot on Capone’s orders in his shop in 1924. What remained of his gang had passed under the control, in 1929, of George ‘Bugs’ Moran.
On February 14, 1929, a snowy St. Valentine’s Day, six of Moran’s men were in the garage of the SMC Cartage Company at 2122 North Clark Street awaiting what they thought was a consignment of hijacked Canadian whiskey. Also present was Dr. Reinhardt Schwimmer, an optometrist, who appears to have been a ‘groupie’ of the gangsters. Moran was expected, but he had overslept and was late.
When men dressed as policemen entered, the Moran men thought it was a police raid and allowed themselves to be lined up with their faces to the wall. More men, carrying machine guns, then entered and mowed them down. The killers left with the suspects they had “arrested” still believing their captors to be policemen.
One of the Moran men, Frank Gusenberg, was alive when found by real policemen, but died later in the hospital. In traditional gangland style he refused to name his killers. They were never identified, but there is no doubt they were henchmen of Capone. He himself was in Miami, ostentatiously keeping an appointment with an official, when the massacre happened. However, as Moran said, ‘Only Capone kills like that.’ Moran had arrived at the garage, seen the murderer’s car outside the garage, and promptly departed. He died in prison in 1957.
Culled from: Crimes and Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 22
So I decided to pay an impromptu visit to the site of the SMC Cartage Company warehouse. Of course, in the grand Chicago tradition of ruining every interesting morbid thing, the warehouse was demolished in 1967. The bullet-marked portion of wall where the massacre occurred was removed, and was reinstalled in the men’s room of a Canadian restaurant for awhile (how sexist!), and eventually most of the bricks were sold to the Mob Museum in Las Vegas.
Suffice to say, there isn’t a lot of interest left where the warehouse once stood… but I was pleased to see that the building adjacent to the warehouse still stands so you can vividly imagine where it was. Here are a couple shots of the warehouse building at the time of the massacre:
And here’s what the site looks like today – no plaque even! Chicago, you disappoint me so… It’s almost like you’re embarrassed by your ghastly history!
Of course, I could have just settled for the Google Maps street view of the scene – it turned out better than my lousy phone pics… but I had to experience the atmosphere myself, being a morbid sightseer and all. And it reeks of joggers, Starbucks-sipping stroller pushers, and labradoodles wearing boutique collars. Like all of this neighborhood.
And here’s the better Google Maps shot, complete with someone sitting on the stoop touching her phone, completely unaware (I would imagine) that six men were slaughtered only feet away from her! Well, I guess that’s not very unusual in Chicago, come to think of it…
Forlorn Photography: Fragrant Factory Edition
And speaking of pointless photography, I put up a collection of photos I took at an abandoned factory in Illinois three years ago on my Forlorn Photography website. Please have a look if you’re interested in that sort of thing!