Maybe Don’t Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Chicago

Maybe Don’t Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Chicago

For better or worse, Chicago is infamous for its St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and no amount of candy hearts and red roses can help this city outrun its bloody Valentine’s day legacy.  What really happened on February 14, 1929?  Who was there and why?  Prohibition stories like this only come around every one hundred years and it’s definitely worth retelling for another hundred years.

Bad guys and even bad groups existed well before Prohibition, and of course since then.  But Prohibition made these bad guys wealthy beyond our wildest imaginations and the concentration of power into small factions divided the city into parts controlled by these groups.  Capone was making upwards of $60 million each year…in the 1920’s.

Capone’s gang hated George “Bugs” Moran.  Moran was the last standing true threat to Capone’s quest for Prohibition domination.  The only way that Capone could control his ungodly profits and deal with his nemesis was a gang hit.  This massacre, though, was different.  This was a message, too.  This wasn’t one of Capone’s guys killing Moran in an alley.  This was intended to send shock waves through Chicago and establish once and for all who was the king of the windy city.

Moran operated a small garage at 2122 N. Clark Street for his nefarious activities.  On the morning of February 14, 1929, four men entered the building, two of whom were dressed as police officers.  The “police officers” advised that this was a raid and that everyone inside the building needed to stand against the wall.  Immediately, the shots started.  Submachine guns rattled the walls, waking the neighborhood, and killing seven men, including Moran’s brother, Peter Gusenberg.  Guess who wasn’t there, though.  Bugs!

Despite the bloody hatred between Capone and Bugs, neither gentlemen were in the garage on Valentine’s Day.  Capone was in Florida and Moran took the morning off and slept in.

What really irked the city’s reporters was that the massacre took place during daylight.  That it took place during the day rendered the attach “out of the comprehension of a civilized society.”  Seriously?  Not because seven men were lined up against a wall and assassinated?  One troubling aspect that is worth noting, other than the daylight, of course, is that the men got in because they were dressed as police officers and later escaped driving a get-away car that also bore a striking resemblance to the police cars of the time.

From the news reports immediately following the massacre, there seemed to be no doubt that this was a Capone hit.  Despite his iron-clad, sunshine soaked Florida alibi, everyone in Chicago knew that Capone was the one that had put the guns in the hands of his guys.  If nothing else, Capone’s prints on the massacre only contributed to his legend and reign of terror over the City of Chicago and its police and prosecutors.

This year, avoid car garages and just buy your loved one a very legal ‘20s cocktail for Valentine’s Day, Chicago! Cheers!

Written by Amy Williams

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