|Ness in Chicago|
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 Once the Volstead Act was repealed, Ness became part of the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms).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.