Like any city that’s been around for a while, Chicago has had its fair share of strange occurrences in the over the years. From questionable deaths to spiritual attractions, Chicago has seen a diverse range of extraordinary happenings. Here are 10 of the weirdest things from our history that we can’t seem to live down.
1. A cow started a fire that burnt the whole city to the ground.
While a few buildings survived this awful tragedy, most of the city was made of wood and therefore left in ashes on October of 1871, when Mrs. O'Leary's cow allegedly kicked over a lantern in the night. This theory has never been proven, but it is the most popular way to begin when telling the tale.
2. A man died from eating too much ice cream.
Believe it or not, a 21-year-old Frenchman died in 1892 due to consuming too much ice cream. The story goes that he started working at an ice cream parlor, where he got his first taste of the sweet stuff. From there, he was hooked and ate nothing but ice cream for days until his stomach froze. Maybe stick to just one bowl next time...
3. More than 100 waiters poisoned hundreds of bad customers.
Mickey Finn was a bartender at the Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden Restaurant known for slipping poison into his customers drinks in order to rob them. By 1918, many more service staff members in the city adopted his plan and began using the scheme on bad tippers. Unfortunately, it resulted in the deaths of three people. The events led to the popularization of the slang term "slipping a mickey," meaning serving someone a laced drink.
4. Rumors of a "devil baby" caused quite a stir in the early 1900s.
Sometime around 1913, rumors started to fly that Jane Addams Hull, who was known for her humanitarian work, was housing a devil child in Hull House. People believed that it had been dropped off on the doorstep and was being hidden from sight. The story got so big that people started showing up at the place demanding answers.
5. A dead woman solved her own crime.
In 1977, a woman was found murdered in her apartment, which was also set on fire. No one had any clue what happened until months later, when a man named Dr. Jose Chua told police that his wife was having visions of the victim and knew everything that had happened. She was able to give the name of the murderer, as well as specific details about how the crime unfolded. Some say she was psychic or possessed, but perhaps she just had some insider knowledge... as she had worked at the same hospital as the murderer and his victim.
6. The reversal of the Chicago River.
This incredible feat of civil engineering is one of the weirdest things Chicago ever did, but it was also one of the most important. In the 1880s, the city was facing a water supply and sewage problem. By taking water from Lake Michigan and putting it into the Mississippi River watershed, they managed to make the river flow in reverse, saving the city from a crisis.
7. Al Capone played a joke after his death.
The legacy of Chicago's most notorious gangster lives on to this day, and in 1986, someone thought they had a real treasure. On live television, Geraldo Rivera opened up a vault in the Lexington Hotel, which was once owned by Capone, that was rumored to contain treasure (and possibly bodies) from the Prohibition era. FBI agents, police, lawyers, and medical examiners all gathered around to claim their piece of the prize, but all that was found in the vault was a single empty bottle.
8. We named a neighborhood after a con artist.
George Streeter crashed his boat into the shore line at Superior Street, and though he was given permission to stay for a little while, he never left. He and his wife eventually laid claim to 186 acres that they bullied away from others. Despite all of this, the area is officially named Streeterville and there is even a statue of him on a street corner.
Not only one of the weirdest things to ever happen, this is definitely one of the most disgusting. In August 2004, a Dave Matthews Band tour bus was rolling through the city. As the driver crossed Kinzie Avenue Bridge, he thought it'd be a good place to dump the bus's waste tank. Unknown to the driver, a boat of 120 tourists were below and got doused with 800 pounds of human waste. Eww!
10. The Virgin Mary showed up on the Kennedy.
Not too long ago, in 2005, a strange stain appeared on the overpass at Fullerton in the Kennedy Expressway, and many believed it looked like the Virgin Mary. Within days of it first being spotted, locals had brought candles, flowers, and religious artifacts to the site to memorialize the biblical mother.
Would you add anything to this list of weirdest events in Chicago’s history? Share your stories with us in the comments below!