St. Valentine's Day Massacre Site

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Site

2122 N. Clark Street

Chicago, IL. 60614


During the 1920's and 1930's the city of Chicago was almost completely taken over by gangsters and even the police and politicians were on the take.  Warring factions broke up the city by gang territories and doing business outside your respective territory was dangerous and surely had serious repercussions.  Long before people like Alphonse “Scarface” Capone and George “Bugs” Moran came on to the scene mobsters like Dion O’Banion, Johnny “The Fox” Torrio and “Big” Jim Colosimo ruled the gangs with an iron fist.  Eventually however through the process of elimination, Al Capone ruled the south side while Bugs Moran was in charge of the north side.

A series of violence beginning with the killing of Big Jim Colosimo, Dion O’Banion, Johnny Torrio, Angelo Genna, Hymie Weiss and the police killing of Vincent Druchi catapulted the likes of Capone and Moran to the head of their respective gangs.  While Al had designs on becoming the top boss, Moran didn’t want any part of it but was elevated by proxy.

The SMC Cartage Company Garage at 2122 N. Clark Street was Moran’s headquarters for bootlegging operations.  Al Capone decided once and for all to wipe out the competition in the north and take over all the illegal gambling, prostitution and bootlegging citywide.  He employed lookouts in boarding houses across the street at 2119 N. Clark and a better vantage point from 2139 N. Clark.  They kept the garage under surveillance for weeks waiting for the perfect opportunity.

Capone, using a fellow gangster from Detroit to make Moran a phony offer promising an intercepted shipment of liquor was the bait.  Moran jumped at the offer to make some money and put a dent in Capone’s bootlegging operation.  At 10:30 am on February 14, 1929, Moran and a crew of his lieutenants were to be at the SMC Garage to accept the shipment.

Moran and his two other associates, Willie Marks and Teddy Newbury were running a bit late and seeing what appeared to be a Chicago Police car pull up to the front of the garage, they ducked into a nearby coffee shop.  Four men climbed out of the sedan, two in plain clothes and two in police uniforms.

Inside the garage were: Adam Heyer, John May, Albert R. Weinshank, Albert Kachellek (alias James Clark), brothers Frank and Peter Gusenberg and Reinhart Schwimmer.  They were all top Moran hoods except Schwimmer who was an optometrist and a self-professed “gangster groupie”. 

The two uniformed hoods entered first and announced that this was a raid and ordered the seven men to face the wall with their hands over their heads.  Then the two plain-clothes gangsters reached into their topcoats and extracted two Thompson sub-machine guns and shotguns.  The Moran gang never had a chance and was killed by over seventy sub-machine rounds and shotgun blasts to the head.  According to gangster tradition, the bullets had traces of garlic to assure death.  

Their dirty work completed the two plainclothes were lead out by the two uniformed officers looking much like a bust and arrest had just been made.  Frank Gusenberg was somehow still barely alive.  He was transported to Alexian Brothers Hospital where he died at 1:40 PM.  When asked who shot him and his brother he answered, “Nobody shot me.”  There was one eye witness though who was never able to tell the true story, John May’s German Alsatian, Highball had seen everything and was found howling mournfully amid the carnage.  “Only Capone kills like that,” Moran would later remark. The murder car, a 1927 Cadillac seven-passenger sedan was later found stripped in a rented garage on North Wood Street.  The SMC garage was torn down in 1967 as part of an urban renewal program.  

Today a small grassy area just to the south of a housing project for the elderly marks the site.  There are five trees like the five spots on a playing card and where the middle tree is located all the way to the bushes in the rear of the property is where the north wall once stood;  the wall where those men were lined up and killed.

In the years since the massacre people have heard sobbing and moaning sounds emanating from the site of the murders. Animals also react strangely to the site.  Even the highly trained K-9 Patrol from the Chicago Police Department has been observed barking, snarling and growling at something unseen.  Others will aggressively pull away apparently seeing or sensing someone or something their handlers cannot.

Sounds of automatic fire and shotgun blasts have also been reported in the years since the massacre.  A most unusual story relates to the bricks of the old SMC Cartage Company Garage.  When the garage was pulled down, souvenir hunters descended on the site and carted away loads of bricks.  Some were still spattered with blood or contained bullet holes.  It seems that those who had quite a number of the original bricks have met with some form of bad luck.  Either sickness, bankruptcy, divorces or other forms of bad karma.  Maybe some force still lingers in the inanimate bricks?  Could the animals be reacting to something they see or are they simply sensing the misery, pain and suffering of this most vicious act?  This area shows no sign of going away any time soon.  

Here is a old Super 8mm home video showing the site and the simple chain fence around the property.

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