63rd and Wallace, Chicago, Illinois
In The Devil in the White City:
“The eeriest phase of the investigation (into Holmes’ Hotel) began when the police, holding their flickering lanterns high, entered the hotel basement, a cavern of brick and timber measuring 50 by 165 feet. The discoveries came quickly: a vat of acid with eight ribs and part of a skull settled at the bottom; mounds of quicklime; a large kiln; a dissection table stained with what seemed to be blood. They found surgical tools and charred high heeled shoes. And more bones.”
In Real Life:
It’s kind of weird. In the exact spot where the World’s Fair Hotel once stood and where so many horrible things went down – there now stands an auto parts store. It’s at 63rd street where it hits Wallace in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Now – that’s a pretty rough part of town – so I don’t recommend going there by yourself. I saw the location from a bus on The Devil in the White City tour offered by Chicago Architectural Foundation. As Erik Larson recounts in the book, Herman Holmes bought a drug store and then the property across the street to build the hotel. He acted as the architect and hired and fired construction crews so they were not around long enough to piece his evil plan together. The property was perfectly located – people could hop on the new “L” to get to the white city – so it turned out to be a good place to stay for fair visitors – well, except for those who became ensnared in Holme’s serial killer ways. The hotel burned to the ground on August 20, 1895.