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If you are not 18, please exit stage left. While there is normally nothing naughty here, I do write and review erotica so there are links to spicy stuff and the occasional heated excerpt.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Chicago From A To Z...E and F, a Twofer

Sorry about the mini break in posts, I had a busy weekend. But, I'm catching myself up with a twofer today for the Big A To Z.

Ness in Chicago
E Is For Eliot Ness

One of Chitown's most famous is the head honcho Untouchable himself, Eliot Ness. There is a lot known about him, so I'll try and fill in some lesser known details. Ness was born in the Roseland neighborhood here on the South Side to Norwegian immigrants in 1903. After high school he went on to the University of Chicago where he obtained a degree in Economics. He began his career investigating backgrounds for credit checks with the Retail Credit Company of Atlanta known today as Equifax. Spooky how long they've been around.

Eliot's brother-in-law, an FBI agent, got him interested in law enforcement and Ness returned to the U of C to obtain a Masters in criminology. He started with the Department of the Treasury in 1927 as part of the Bureau of Prohibition in Chicago. President Hoover ordered the Department to focus solely on Al Capone and so began Ness' battle with Scarface. During his raids and investigations there were several assassination attempts on Ness resulting in the murder of one of his closest friends. After the events in Chicago, Ness was promoted to Chief Investigator for the Chicago office of the Bureau of Prohibition and later for the Ohio region. Once the Volstead Act was repealed, Ness became part of the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms). He transferred to Cleveland, where he was hired as the City's Safety Director and promptly went after organized crime. His work led to heavy drinking, two divorces and finally being forced into the private sector as his failures mounted. He did various odd jobs to keep afloat, worked at a security company and finally found footing at Guaranty Paper.  He died young at 54 after collaborating on Oscar Fraley's novel, The Untouchables.

F Is For The Hotel Florence
Hotel Florence in winter

Standing proud on the corner of 111th and Forrestville in the far South Side neighborhood of Pullman is the Florence Hotel. Built by the inventor of the Pullman sleeper car, George Pullman, the Florence was his home away from home. Named after his oldest daughter, Florence, the 50 room hotel opened on November 1, 1881. It offered first class luxurious accommodations for the railroad magnates and other robber barons who came to do business with Pullman. It was the crown jewel of Pullman's industrial town along the shores of Lake Calumet. Pullman's workers were banned from the hotel, as was the consumption of alcohol. The Florence had the only bar in town, of course. Business tycoons needed their whiskey,though.

In 1889 Pullman's little kingdom was annexed by the City of Chicago and ol' Georgie saw his rules and regulations all disappear in favor of City ordinances and taxes. Booze for everybody! Pullman's dreams took a further blow in 1894 with the Railroad Strike led by Eugene Debs. The sleeper car inventor died in 1897 and his successor built on to the Florence, making it a hot destination for visitors to Chicago. With the decline of rail travel, the hotel fell into disrepair, but was purchased in 1975 to save it from demolition. In 1991, the hotel was restored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and now operates tours and holds a champagne brunch on the weekends. I myself, have been there several times and it is beautiful and the food is top notch, including nearly all the same menu items offered in its heyday.

Fun trivia about the hotel. The 2002 film, Road To Perdition was filmed in part at the Florence, as Daniel Craig's character kept a room there. They were allowed unprecedented access to the hotel for filming.

Care for some champagne and brunch at the Hotel Florence? I'd be more than happy to take you. Were you surprised at all by Ness? Have fun visiting the rest of my fellow amazing challengers by clicking on the link at the top right or here.


  1. I bet that's a great place for a champagne brunch. Like stepping back in time.
    I think it's spooky how long Equifax has been around as well....

  2. That old hotel is charming. It's a good thing they were able to preserve it.

  3. Hotel Florence looks charming. I would surely want to visit it.

  4. What a legacy Ness has. He's the most famous policeman from that era. My mothers maiden name is spelled Elliott and it always looks weird when I see it spelled differently.

  5. I didn't know Ness ended like that. Beautiful hotel and I would like to go there.

  6. What a beautiful hotel. Eliot Ness was an amazing character.

  7. I loved the pictures and the Hotel was so pretty. This is my first time I have visited here but I will be back soon.

  8. Love Robert Stack's Eliot Ness - and Max Allan Collins's as well! Champagne brunch, eh? Haven't had one of those since New Orleans in the mid 90's!


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