As Harry Caray might exclaim: holy cow!
A bit of weekend cleaning has uncovered a new mystery at one of Chicago’s most historic buildings: a secret room used by gangsters found in the basement of Harry Caray's restaurant in River North.
Harry Caray's general manager Grant DePorter took FOX 32 to the basement of their 123-year-old landmark building to show us what cleaning crews discovered: a long-abandoned storage room.
"That room was filled with stuff that went back over 40 years," DePorter said. "So this weekend we got in this room really for the first time. And we found this bricked in door. And we really don't know where it goes. But every time we've found something like that in this building there's always something behind it."
That's because long before Harry Caray's began serving up food and drinks, the building was owned and the headquarters of legendary prohibition-era gangster and bootlegger Frank Nitti. Nitti's gang was aligned with Al Capone and even after Nitti committed suicide in 1943, rather than go back to prison, it remained in Nitti's family until the late 60's.
Over the years, DePorter has made a series of odd discoveries.
"In 1998 an electrician was drilling through that wall and he realized it was hallow, and said 'hey, there seems to be a room back there!'" DePorter said.
That's when they found a massive vault, now used as a storage room.
“This building has a lot of secrets, yes,” DePorter said.
They also uncovered a safe behind one of the walls.
"We had to get a professional safecracker to get into it,” DePorter said.
Also found was an address book from the gangster era.
"We looked inside. It's got mobster's home phone numbers in it. And also aldermen and city officials,” DePorter said.