140 E Walton Place, Chicago, IL

(312) 787-2200

Status: Historic Luxury 4 Star Hotel



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By <a href="https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q95689885" class="extiw" title="d:Q95689885"><span title="Engineer, wrier, and researcher, born in Carmel, California in 1953.">Gregory Ford Henderson</span></a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0Link


Hotel magnates Tracey and John Drake bought the property the Drake sits on from Potter Palmer in 1916. The Drake cost $10 million ($270 million in 2022 dollars) and took 4 years to build.

When it was built the hotel served as a dividing point between the upscale residential Gold Coast and the burgeoning upscale retail area that we now know as the ‘Magnificent Mile’.

William and Elizabeth Drake lived in the hotel until the family lost it in the Great Depression.

Frank ‘The Enforcer’ Nitti kept his offices in the hotel while he was head of the Chicago Outfit – a division of the Italian-American Mafia.

Thanks in part to it’s location – and unlike so many other old school luxury hotels – the Drake never went out of fashion and the trendy part of the city never moved away.

In 1996 Hilton International bought the hotel and shut it down to do $45 million in renovations before opening again 2003. In 2005-06 a fitness center, corporate lounge and new furnishings were added at a cost of $15 million.

Numerous celebrities and political figures have stayed at the hotel including Walt Disney, Julia Roberts, Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan.


Paranormal Activity

The hotel’s most famous ghost is the “Lady in Red”.

Legend says she danced New Year’s Eve of 1920 away in the ballroom starting with her fiancé but eventually moving onto to strangers who wanted some time with the beautiful woman in the blood red dress. As midnight approached, she looked for her fiancé to share a kiss with him but was unable to find him.

Thinking he must have needed a break she went up to the 10th floor to their room and strangely found the door unlocked. Her fiancé was in bed with another woman – who is said to have tried to pass off the other woman as a friend – so the scorned woman fled and took the elevator the roof of the building. Once on the roof she stepped off and plunged to her death.

Other versions say she jumped from the 10th floor.

To this day the apparition of the “Lady in Red” is seen in the 10th floor hallway. She is also seen near the Palm Coast Lounge and the Gold Coast Room perhaps remembering the last time she was happy.

Jacob and Flora Banks are other famous residents of the hotel who have stayed long after their lives ended. Their teenage son was kidnapped and murdered by 2 rich University of Chicago students in 1924 who did all for a lark. After the trial the devastated parents sold their estate and moved into the hotel where Jacob died 4 years later and Flora 9 years after him.

Their sorrow filled apparitions are still encountered in the suite their lives ended in. They have also been seen elsewhere in the hotel seemingly just wandering for eternity broken hearted and in tears.

Adele Born Williams was a rich Chicago socialite when she returned to her room on the 8th floor of the hotel with her daughter. They found a woman dressed in black in their room who may have been waiting to kill them or perhaps was just a thief. Either way the woman pulled a gun and fired shooting Adele in the head fatally wounding her. The crime was never solved.

Strangely the gun used in the murder was found a week later on the stairs which had been searched repeatedly and the missing room key – which had been stolen from the front desk – just as suddenly appeared right back where it was taken from.

However, guilt must have trapped the woman in black in the hotel. Her apparition is still seen running down the halls of the 8th floor forever escaping the heinous crime she committed.