The Pierre’s Gangster Connection
The underworld history of Chicago during the era of Prohibition is well known. At the end of the 1920’s, Chicago had two rival gangs. The South Side gang was headed by Al Capone, who in the winter of 1929 was giving orders from his Miami home. The North Side gang was led by George “Bugs” Moran, at the time a resident of the Parkway Hotel.
The location was convenient for Moran and his gang because it was less than a block from the North Clark Street Garage at 2122 North Clark Street, requiring a short walk out the back door of the Parkway, through the alley and across the street. The garage was used as a distribution point for the gang’s illicit liquor business.
S-M-C Cartage Co. at 2122 North Clark Street in Chicago
On the morning of February 14, 1929, Moran was planning to meet a hijacker at the garage to receive delivery of a truckload of whiskey from Detroit at the garage. Five other men, plus a hired mechanic who was working on a truck were at the garage. Reinhart Schwimmer, an optometrist who lived at The Pierre and was a hanger-on with the North Side gang, had also dropped in. Luckily for Moran, one of the gang members present was Al “Gorilla” Weinshank. The newest member of the gang, Weinshank’s body type and facial appearance may have made lookouts in the rooming house across the street think Moran was in the garage. According to speculation at the time, the lookouts must have telephoned opposition gang members to tell them that Moran and the rest of his outfit were in the garage and everything was ready for an assault.
The South Side gangsters arrived in a Cadillac touring car that had the trappings of a police vehicle. Witnesses reported that two of the five occupants wore police uniforms and carried Thompson sub-machine guns. Moran was running a little late, it is said, because he had a cold, so he and his gambler pal Ted Newberry were running a little late. They came out of the Pierre’s back door and, seeing what they thought was a police car, hot-footed it to a coffee shop at the corner. An image of the 2100 block of Clark Street facing south shows the building where the Massacre took place on the immediate right. Arriving at the crime scene, the real police found six dead bodies littering the garage, along with one mortally wounded survivor, gang member Frank Gusenberg, and 70 shell casings. The crime was never officially solved, but Moran knew who tried to kill him. He told a newspaper interviewer, “Only Al Capone kills guys like that.”
Nothing was the same for Moran after the Massacre. He eventually left the gang and the Chicago area and was reduced to common crimes such as mail fraud and robbery. He went to prison for four years in 1939 for conspiracy to make counterfeit traveler’s check. Upon his release, having been one of the richest gangsters in Chicago during Prohibition, he was penniless. After 1945 he spent the rest of his life in jail for his involvement in a robbery, and in 1957 died of lung cancer when he was beginning yet another prison term.
The details of this account are excerpted from “A Valentine for Bugs Moran, Part One,” published in the blog American Hauntings.
The information about Moran’s life later life is from the Wikipedia entry.