Sunday, February 15, 2009

Harry Guzik's Brothel

Harry Guzik was a top lieutenant in the Capone organization, and he was chiefly in charge of prostitution operations. His was one of Chicago's great crime families: his brother Jake ("Greasy Thumb") was also a Capone man, and his father, Max, was a Levee saloon-owner and political affiliate of Alderman Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna.

One of Guzik's major brothels was the disorderly hotel here at 516 S. Wabash. According to a report in the Chicago Daily News, aggressive "ropers" on the street in front of the hotel would ballyhoo customers inside, promoting its offerings "like barkers at a street carnival."

Besides the female employees, the hotel also was home to a few small-time crooks and street enforcers for the Capone syndicate. David Bullock, a 19 year old thief, was a resident at the time of his arrest, when he confessed to robbing five Englewood candy stores (who knew there were five candy stores in Englewood?).

Interestingly, this wasn't the first brothel at this address. In 1908 and 1910, a brothel run by Grace Graves was raided by the police here. The lot was subdivided in 1890 from that just north of it, where the Congress Bank building sits, both of which were originally owned by the McCormick family. The hotel was built in the mid-1890s, and substantially renovated in 1918, before it was purchased by Capone in the early 1920s.

The hotel has since been demolished and all that remains is a parking lot.

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