The Six Days of Helloween – #5. The Hangman of the Water Tower
The second stop in our tour of the scariest urban legends and ghost stories of Chicago is The Water Tower. This building is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city and according to some stories, a very haunted place as well.
The source of this haunting dates back to October 8th, 1871, when a fire started that would change the face of Chicago forever. Whether it was Mrs. Leary's cow or the incredibly dry season that the city was currently in that started the fire is a legend all to itself, one thing is for sure, the fire ripped through the mostly wooden and brick constructed building of the area, most of which were old and in disrepair. This tragic event of Chicago's history left more than 300 dead, and 100,000 people homeless while creating a path of destruction that was four miles long and two thirds of a mile wide. These are the events of nightmares.
The Chicago Water Tower was built in 1869 of pale limestone and stands 154 feet above the city floor. It is located in an area referred to as Streeterville, after the pioneer Captain Streeter, who had claimed the entire area as his when he arrived to Chicago. Unfortunately for him, the state of Illinois had thought differently and taken all of "his" land back. When this happened, Streeter cursed the property and strange things started to happen, and have ever since. Not the smallest was the Great Fire.
As the fire raged closer and closer to The Water Tower the police and fireman did everything they could to get the public to leave the area. The tower stood as one of the last defenses of the City, being full of water after all. One lone man, many would say a hero, stayed inside manning the pumps. He refused to leave until it was too late, but he wouldn't let the fire take his life. Instead, fearing the agonizing death by flames, he hung himself from a rafter in the tower.
Ever since the events of the Great Chicago fire, tourists, and locals alike, have caught sight of a shadowy figure of a hanging man through the tower's upstairs windows. Even policeman, flagged down by these witnesses, have reported to see the same, much to their shock.
Are these sightings real or peoples over active imaginations? Perhaps you should wait until a dark, stormy night and go see for yourself. Perhaps if you could find entry you could even have a word with one of the most terrifying residents of Chicago, The Hangman of the Water Tower.