Tag Archives: illinois

Pullman Hotel Tennis Ghost

Main Piece:


The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as TM. I am marked as DG.


TM: When I was working, um, at Pullman Hotel, and it’s in the uh Pullman neighborhood in Chicago, and it’s the hotel that housed people that used to visit the Pullman Palace Car Company and made railroad cars-really fancy ones. And so, uh, they had a factory in that neighborhood, and then they had a tower of houses…And so it was built in 1880, and it’s no longer used as a hotel, um, partly because there’s no way to get out if you’re on the top floor. Yeah, um, and I…was kind of manning the front desk for tourists to come in and walk around the old hotel and these three women walked in and one was kind of a little bit, you know, younger–not 20s but maybe 30s, and, um, then there were two women maybe a little bit older and they had like fanny packs on, you know, and kind of tourist looking… And, um, the younger one had on like a tennis skirt or something. It looked like she played tennis or something, um, it looked a little dated but not really so I talked to them…Um, it was mostly–it was the two older women who were talking to me, I guessed the other was their kid, and, um, it used to be a restaurant at the hotel-and it was fancy-which isn’t there anymore. Um, so they all kind of went off and the two of them went to do the tour where, um, you have your piece of paper and you walk around and take the tour on your own, and the other went off to the bathroom. And then the woman comes walking around the corner from the bathroom, kind of reaching into her pocket to, you know, maybe hand me a piece of paper, and then she just just disappeared. Just completely gone! She had a tennis skirt on, it was kind of 80s. It was kind of funny 80s, I thought it was kind of dated, but then I was like she’s kind of close to my age so like. I have no idea what that was about.


Apparently the hotel was supposed to be haunted and many people have had ghost experiences there.





The conversation was recorded while sitting in a hallway outside of a classroom on a university campus. The context of where the interviewee saw the ghost was in the front desk area of the old Pullman Hotel. Apparently, the hotel is a well-known haunted site, and most who have worked there have had sightings.




The interviewee is a professor at the University of Southern California. They are also a practicing archeologist. Originally from Chicago, IL, they now live in Los Angeles, CA, with their husband. The interviewee worked in Finance before pursuing a teaching degree.




I think this story held a lot of weight because I’ve had my fair share of ghost stories. I’ve also worked long hours in a retail setting, and know that feeling you get towards the end where you’re starting to imagine things. I think that made this story even better, because I could easily imagine the feeling of “Did I just see that??” Beyond that, many others have apparently seen ghosts at the Pullman Hotel, adding legitimacy to the legend. It also made me wonder what was on the paper–was it a message that the apparition was trying to tell TM, or was it just a recording ghost that does the same act in the same place forever?

Legend— Illinois

Jordan told me that, in the fall of 2010, a handful of stories began circulating around his hometown of Champaign, IL.  The stories were different each time, but the main theme was the same:  a group of young African-American males attacked an overweight white person in public.  Because the victims of these attacks were all supposedly overweight, the act was dubbed “Polar Bear Hunting.”  It was said that the attack was part of a local gang initiation ritual.

A few incidents of attacks on overweight white people did actually occur, but they were never confirmed to be a part of a specific gang initiation.  Still, the story became somewhat of a media sensation throughout October-December 2010.  There were several newspaper articles about the topic, and the thought that these attacks could occur definitely scared people from walking around town alone late at night.  Different legends about the attacks spread rapidly throughout the town.

Jordan said that he learned of this legend from his friend, who happened to be an overweight white male.  His friend said that he felt slightly threatened walking around the University of Illinois campus late at night because of the threat of Polar Bear Hunting.  Jordan informed me that, as an African-American male, he did not feel threatened… but he thought the legend was somewhat racist and could have caused people to look at him differently.

Jordan also said that he thinks polar bear hunting is little more than a sensational news story.  Even though most people are not aware of a particular occurrence, most inhabitants of the town know about the attacks and/or believe that they exist.   Also, despite the serious nature of the supposed attacks, the title “polar bear hunting” is somewhat humorous.

For the most part, I agree with Jordan.  Because Champaign, IL is a fairly small town, it’s easy for a story like this to spread quickly throughout its citizens.  Also, the story is not as popular as it was a few months ago, demonstrating that it was likely a product of the media.  Even if these attacks  are still occurring, people aren’t hearing or talking about them as much.

Furthermore, I think the concept of “polar bear hunting” has something to do with white citizens’ general fear of black citizens in the town.  Champaign, IL has a large white population and a large black population and problems (usually minor) surrounding this topic occasionally arise.  Although racism is no longer outwardly present in the community, legends like this prove that at least some form of racism or fear of “the other” (even if unconscious and/or perpetuated by the media) still exists.

More information on the Polar Bear Hunting stories can be found in the following news articles: