Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago

Congress Hotel in Chicago

The Congress Plaza Hotel, located at 520 South Michigan Ave. in downtown Chicago, opened in 1893, just in time for the World’s Columbian Exposition. For a while, it was owned by mobster Al Capone, who used it for his headquarters.

The North Tower, pictured below, was designed by Clinton Warren, with Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler serving as consultants. The South Tower was a later addition, designed by the firm Holabird and Roche.

Congress Hotel in Chicago

The interior has a faded grandeur that I found quite charming, if a bit tattered. Some might describe the place as not “updated,” while others may say that it has “character.” The walls feature old wallpaper or layers and layers of paint. The rugs are stained and worn. The bathroom in our room was tiny, its marble tiles cracked in places. On the other hand, I loved the high, coved ceiling and large bay window in the room.

The lobby is quite ornate:

Congress Hotel in Chicago

Congress Hotel in Chicago

I really enjoyed all these decorative details:

Congress Hotel in Chicago

The “CH” monogram seems to be everywhere:

Congress Hotel in Chicago

Congress Hotel in Chicago

Congress Hotel in Chicago

Congress Hotel in Chicago

Congress Hotel in Chicago

Congress Hotel in Chicago

While staying here, we encountered picketers out front and later learned about the longest hotel strike in the US. You can check out photos of the unsafe and unsanitary conditions that have been found in the hotel. I have to admit that, though we spent very little time in the hotel itself, we didn’t experience any of these problems.

Another interesting tidbit is that the hotel is apparently haunted and was therefore used as the site of the first annual Chicago Ghost Conference in 2007.


8 thoughts on “Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago

  1. Wow, you both mentioned things I know nothing about… I just looked up Bioshock but didn’t know what “VG” stands for.

    David, according to IMDB, The Thirteenth Floor was shot in Los Angeles. I think every city has at least one grand, old hotel that’s more or less like this.

  2. You should be ashamed of yourself for staying there. People are out there every day, fighting for their right to earn a living wage.

  3. Are you serious? Like I mentioned, we only found out about the strike once we checked into the hotel, and only learned the whole story once we got back home. This was a last-minute trip, and we were just looking for a convenient place to stay. Maybe the strike and the negative comments I read afterward explain why we were able to find a last-minute vacancy in a downtown hotel. I don’t know.

    I don’t feel ashamed for not having thoroughly researched this place beforehand. I included as much information here as I thought might be pertinent to other people, given that my main point was really to show the grand interior details, not to review the hotel or to discuss the issues surrounding the strike.

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