The Ghosts of the Congress Plaza Hotel


MO is my mother. She grew up in Chicago, Illinois in the 70s. She was born to two Puerto Rican parents who came to America in their teenage years. Her father is from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, and her mother is from Moca, Puerto Rico. They go visit Puerto Rico every summer and have done so for decades. 


DO: Chicago’s an old city, do you have any myths or legends that are specific to us?

MO: The old hotel over on Michigan Ave in downtown is apparently haunted. 

DO: The Congress?

MO: Yes. Apparently there’s a bunch of different ghost stories. The famous one is the story about the man with the peg leg. You know I love true crime so my favorite one is about the bellboy that’s a ghost. 

DO: Can you tell me about them?

MO: I think they called the famous ghost Peg Leg Johnny. He became an alcoholic after some accident where he lost his leg but then he did work at the hotel. Like maintenance stuff. People have said they’ve heard knocking on the door and then seen a man with a peg leg. The bellboy one is about a young kid who worked there and everyone loved him. Then one day he just went missing and nobody ever saw him again. Some people say they see him pushing the luggage carrier things and waving at people then he just disappears. Me and your dad actually have stayed in that hotel

DO: Really? What was your experience like? 

MO: Well we stayed there before we knew it was haunted. Your dad swears he did hear anything, but I heard people knocking on our door. I didn’t see anything thank God. After we stayed there we heard all the stories. 


All cities have folklore narratives that are unique to their major landmarks. The Congress Hotel in Chicago is no different. This massive hotel is hard to miss, seeing as it is on our most popular street downtown and is distinctive. The hotel has an old look to it which further encourages ghost stories to be told about it. After talking to more of my family each of them had their own ghost story that has been passed down by other Chicagoans. If you live in Chicago this hotel is pretty well known. These ghost stories bring Chicagoans together to talk about a landmark that they share as common knowledge.