STREETERVILLE — This time of year, ghost tour buses are easy to find parked outside cemeteries or the old haunts of the city's gangsters and serial killer H.H. Holmes.
But Ursula Bielski's Chicago Hauntings tour stops at a place you might not expect: the John Hancock Center, the Streeterville skyscraper bustling with commercial business and known for its sky-high fine dining.
"It's way at the top of my list," Bielski said. "Without a doubt, it's one of the most haunted places in Chicago. It's one of the most enigmatic places I've encountered in 25 years."
Kyla Gardner says it was quite an experience trying to get a comment from the Hancock Center:
Bielski presents the evidence: The building at 875 N. Michigan Ave. has seen some high-profile, mysterious deaths and freak accidents in its 46 years.
In the 1970s, a woman and man accidentally fell through building windows to their deaths in separate incidents. Comedy legend Chris Farley was found dead from an overdose in his 60th-floor condo in 1997. In 2002, three people were killed and eight were injured by falling scaffolding.
The building was also a source of fascination for Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey, who claimed to have been born nearby.
In "The Devil's Notebook," LaVey wrote that the shapes and layouts of buildings — especially the nefarious trapezoid — can affect the people inside, provoking "emotional imbalance and ensuing acts of violence."
The black trapezoid of the Hancock, he wrote, was a "brooding spectacle with its twin devil horns ... That its history is grim, to me, is quite understandable."
Bielski, who also hosted "The Hauntings of Chicago" on PBS, said she's heard from residents and workers in the building who report supernatural experiences and ghost sightings.
But the Satanists don't buy it.
"The Satanic aspects are visual and architectural, leading to a psychological sense of dread being evoked, not supernatural or demonic in any way," said Peter Gilmore, current high priest for the Church of Satan.
So what's really going on at the Hancock?
Representatives of the building didn't comment, but the official website admits at least one fact that may evoke some psychological dread:
"Spiders grow bigger [lots bigger!] this high up. We would show you some photos but we don't want you having nightmares!"
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