Possible Ghost Shot!

The other night I ran a private tour for a group from bachelors-grove.com. No strange noises in the Florentine Room tonight, but we did get a cool picture – that’s me on the left, but the origin of the shadow on the right is undetermined:

I never hold up anything as “good” evidence – there is no such thing as “good” ghost evidence, only “cool” ghost evidence. This is some of that! The picture was actually taken without the use of a flash (hence the brightness/contrast adjustment), and most of the rest of the group was on the other side of the ballroom, about to leave. The light source visible is presumably from the doorway. It’s POSSIBLE that someone else was taking a picture at the exact same second, but the silhouette is much better defined than I’d expect from that sort of situation.

Eastland Faces

Here’s a picture taken on one of my tours at the site of the Eastland Disaster a couple of years ago:

See a face in the waves?

As a skeptic, it’s pretty easy for me to brush it off as an optical illusion when this sort of thing happens – but, then again, this sort of picture sort of comes in batches at this location; I’ll go months without seeing one, then, all of a sudden, we’ll get three every tour for a while.

If we want to get (psuedo)scientific, maybe some sort of leftover energy exerted at the moment of death reacts with the environment under certain very rare circumstances and forms the waves into a facial shape resembling that of the dead person. It doesn’t seem LIKELY, but who knows? There’s plenty of stuff we’re still figuring out, and anyone who tells you we’ve got ghosts -or the natural world – all figured out is a quack.

Hull House False Positives

Of all the places I’ve ever nvestigated, it’s Hull House that generates the most false positives – photos that LOOK like a ghost, but actually aren’t, even though some of them are really, really cool. Here are a couple that have been taken on tours that I’ve run over the years, representing what are probably the two most common of them:

1. The “Monk” – a ghostly figure that looks kinda like a guy in a hooded robe. Monks at Hull House are pretty well known:

2. The “feminine form” apparition. Pictures of a little girl were common a couple of years ago, but, like the rest of the hauntings there, they’ve tapered off. Here’s a cool one, which could also probably pass for a monk:

I’m not saying Hull House isn’t haunted – we used to get some GREAT shots there, though it hasn’t been all that active in a while, leading us to avoid it on most tours. But it’s also THE easiest place I know of to get a false positive, and these ones aren’t ghosts.

In fact, they’re probably both the same thing: ears. Reflections of people’s ears in the window through which the picture is taken. The top one I’m less sure about, but that’s definitely the case in the bottom one. I’ve gotten at least one or two good “little girl” pictures at Hull House that I’ve yet to explain away, but every monk on the stairs I’ve ever seen has turned out to be an ear in the end. In many (including one of these, in its un-cropped incarnation), if you look closely, you can also see the nose, which is a dead giveaway.

I’m not saying the place isn’t haunted – on an “active” night, it can be the spookiest place in town – but there’s a LOT of crap going around about the place that ghost hunters ought to ignore. There’s no abortion graveyard on the grounds, no headless ghost that’ll follow you home, and there was never actually a devil baby (though there was actually RUMORED to be one in 1912 or 1913 – I forget which. See the tag to find an earlier entry with a link to an article Jane Addams wrote on it). But there DOES seem to be something weird about the place, and we’ve dug up some information on it for the upcoming Weird Chicago book that hasn’t been widely known before!


Ran a tour last weekend for Michelle Kwasniewski and her friends on the occasion of her birthday – it was a really, really fun tour, if I do say so myself! Michelle just sent in a whole set of spooky pictures that were taken on the tour (which was also the night we saw the changed sign at the congress hotel). Here’s one of the spookier ones:

That’s me, looking all ghostly. My guess is that this is just one of those camera whatzits that happen from time to time (though they do seem to be more common in Death Alley, the alley behind the site of the Iroquois Theatre, where this picture was taken – battery drainage is very common back there), but it sure is spooky-looking! Anyone else thinks the misty blur sort of looks like a face?

Here’s a bit from Michelle’s email that I just have to share:

“I also wanted to thank you again for giving us a fantastic tour experience, we could have not wished for a better guide and driver (Willie is awesome, though a man of few words still very funny.) We’re already discussing when we’d like to take the next tour with you. Most likely will book this summer sometime and do the pub crawl hehe(big suprise right) you were extremely accomidating and very patient with everyone’s questions and pulling your time in different directions. I honestly couldn’t have dreamed a better birthday( the party continued into the wee hours after we left you but I’m sure you guessed as much.) Feel free to post this as a customer review as I will also be going to the weird chicago site and do the same. You guys were the best!”

* – identification removed to keep us looking professional 🙂

At the Congress Hotel…

At the Congress, where we recorded our recent podcast, security guards recently found noticed something odd on a message board outside of the Florentine Room, which most of the staff regards as the spookiest ballroom of the lot:

This has “prank” written all over it, but the board IS sealed, and none of the guards have the keys…

There will be a BIG section on the Congress and its ghost stories in our upcoming book!

Ghost Pictures!

Kim Hartley has sent in a few possible ghost pictures from the Friday night tour that are cool enough to warrant a post here. Here is our standard ghost picture disclaimer:

DISCLAIMER: Chicago Unbelievable never claims any ghost picture to be “authentic.” There are always other explanations for weird photos, ranging from weird camera issues to simple optical illusions. There is no such things as GOOD ghost evidence, only COOL ghost evidence – we post these as examples of the latter.

Anyway, with that in mind, here’s a shot from the basement of the former funeral parlor where some see a vague, humanesque form at the right. I can see what they’re looking at, but, as sometimes happens, it looked more distinct on the LCD screen. I’ve messed with the brightness and contrast a bit in attempt to make it more distinct:

And two from inside the windows at Hull House that appear to show faces behind the curtains. There are MANY ways to get a “ghost picture” that’s really just an optical illusion at this place, but, on the other hand, I’ve had more kids than I can count say that they’ve seen a woman in these two windows, and the curtains were moving around a lot on this particular night – more than they normally do from the air vents. No adjustments have been made to these ones. What do you think? See anything?

Will Roosevelt’s Ghost Endorse a Candidate for 2008?

A few days before Super Tuesday, we ran a miniature investigation in the Florentine Room of the Congress Hotel, a hotel reputed to be haunted by Theodore Roosevelt himself, to see if we could get his ghost to endorse a presidential candidate.

While Roosevelt may or may not haunt the hotel, he does have a lot of history there. It was in the Florentine Room in 1912 that he jumped onto a table and announced that he was leaving the Republican party, since they weren’t going to nominate him for a third term. Six weeks later, he was back in the same room, forming the Bull Moose Party, which was officially called The American Progressive Party. It was probably the most liberal major party that had been formed at that point, and served to draw a good deal of the liberals who had been Republicans at that point out of the GOP. He didn’t win the election, but the Bull Moose Party DID come in second, beating President Taft pretty handily. As a side note, his nomination was seconded by Jane Addams of Hull House.

We here at Chicago Unbelievable feel that Col. Roosevelt has been TOTALLY, UNFAIRLY ignored by the “mainstream” media this election cycle. And, though we don’t find it likely that he actually haunts the place, we thought we should give him a chance to say his thing. We really have no idea who he’d endorse today – we can find things he’d like about all three of the major candidates. Alas, if his ghost was there, it kept its mouth shut.

However, during the investigation (which was conducted during one of our tours), a guest named Kayla Hendricks took this picture:

Some say that they see the face of an angry Roosevelt in the flash – he’s back, and he’s PISSED! In reality, this is probably just a psychological trick – our brains are trained to look for shapes like faces in random noise like this (and the fact that we’re happy to tell you this is one way you can tell that we’re REAL ghost hunters here at Chicago Unbelievable, not quacks!) But you never know…

We’ll be back in the Florentine Room several times between now and election day – plenty of time for TR to make an appearance!