In my short tenure as the chair of the preservation committee, I have been asked a few times if I know anything about Al Capone and his ties here. Where did he live, visit? Did he build tunnels? If so, where?
Honestly, I don’t know. There are sooo many more things I, personally, care more about in this city. But, history is history….so here is a bit on the existence of tunnels.
A quick search of the internet brought up places where it is said Capone used tunnels for escape and bootlegging purposes. One as close as Thornton, others in Burlington WI, and Canada. A May 2005 Star article talks about how Chicago Heights not only served as a refuge for Capone, but was where many of his liquor stills were located.
When first posed with the question of tunnels I asked past Chicago Heights historian, Barbara Paul‘s husband. Since her passing, he, and the books she and Dominic Candoloro wrote, are my link to all that she knew – and that was a lot. He told me that she never knew of any and didn’t believe they existed.
Now, that is a tough pill for a lot of people to swallow, I am sure. But the nature of these things, secret tunnels, well, are secret. The stuff of “if I told you, I’d have to kill you”, right? There just may be places, maybe in YOUR basement. Maybe you, or your uncle, held your own Geraldo vault opening only to find canned tomatoes and empty Peroni bottles?
But if there were tunnels, we’d know by now. Our streets – and homes- would have caved in by now. If there were tunnels here, they could not have traversed the city and still be unknown. Tunnels running short distances are more likely, other places had them as well. From home to store, home to home, or from home to carriage house I could believe. A deep cellar for canning and sausage making more likely.
I think I understand why Barbara, and now I, am reluctant to delve into this subject. So many reasons. Yet, it is an interesting question.