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Under Uptown: The Tunnels Under Broadway That Carried Coal, Capone and More

By Josh McGhee | January 22, 2016 5:42am | Updated on February 13, 2016 2:09pm
 The tunnels originally were used to move coal, but took on other uses during Prohibition.
The tunnels originally were used to move coal, but took on other uses during Prohibition.
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UPTOWN — Before Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant and Crew Bar and Grill were built on Broadway, there was a route connecting some of the hottest locations in Uptown ... underground.

Through the tunnels you could reach the Green Mill, the Aragon Ballroom, Bridgeview Bank Building, Shake Rattle and Read and the Uptown Theater. But as times changed, the tunnels were blocked off.

"When Crew and Fiesta Mexicana moved in, they built down, so it doesn't look how it used to," said Ric Addy, owner of Shake Rattle and Read at 4812 N. Broadway.

"Basically from what I've heard, the tunnels ran to the bank building and Aragon, and they were used for moving coal. Furnaces were in the basement, and they had rails they used to carry the coal through it."

In 2007, Addy took camera crews below his store through the tunnels to the Green Mill, stopping to show them bathrooms, which were used when the Green Mill stretched along Broadway as a blocklong beer garden in the early 1900s before the Uptown Theater existed. In 1993, "Excessive Force" was filmed in that bathroom, he said.

No one has been allowed into the tunnels for several years, Addy said.

The tunnels also were used for card games, hiding alcohol and to escape police during raids in the Prohibition days. The tunnels allowed mobsters like Al Capone to escape unseen onto Broadway or Lawrence Avenue, he said.

Check out the video of the tunnels below:

In 2006, Fox News also took a tour of the tunnels with Green Mill owner Dave Jemilo, beginning with the trap door that sits behind the jazz venue's bar. Capone and his friends would sit at the famous "Capone booth" against one wall and escape through the trap door during police raids, Jemilo said in the interview.

"If you get into the tunnels you could get out on the street. You're walking around with your girl on your arm like nothing ever happened — but I can't tell you where that is or you might rob me or something, you know," Jemilo joked.

Find out what else Jemilo found in the tunnels:

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