The first of several blog posts about haunted bars in Chicago, the ghosts, the story, and the rant.
Bucktown Pub at 1658 W Cortland St. Chicago
Candles flying off shelves, beer bottles spinning in place, paper towel machine mysteriously spinning, and just an overall feeling of someone watching you. “A lot of it happens at night, especially when I’m alone in the bar,” Autumn Giltner, the bar’s manager told me. “I’ve seen the door to the kitchen just slam shut randomly with nobody there.”
Bucktown Pub has been a bar since it’s founding in 1933. The pub’s former owner, Walter “Wally” Bochenek, lived in an apartment upstairs with his wife before committing suicide in 1986. Through the years Bucktown Pub has gone over some renovations and changes in ownership, but one thing has remained constant: it’s haunted.
I didn’t see the ghost. So, what? TV and movies spoiled us. Do you think a haunted bar means you’re greeted by a floating beer list while the lights flicker cryptic morse code messages at you? Maybe you think you’ll walk through a cold spot on the way to the bathroom? I mean, did you really think I was going to write about how the beer taps mysteriously turned on and off right in front of me while I was there? Maybe I’d write how top-shelf whisky bottles were constantly being shattered around the room like an invisible bar fight in an old western saloon? Then I’d tell you a cool story how the profusely apologetic bartender gave everyone free drinks to make up for the disturbance. AND if we were REALLY lucky, perhaps I’d even have a few pictures where, “if you just looked close enough,” you can see a phantom face in the background.
You’ve all seen too many movies. I have no doubt that the place is haunted, but i didn’t have high hopes to see anything go down on a sunny thursday afternoon. However, just before I got there, Autumn told me there was some paranormal shenanigans going on that afternoon. Wally the ghost has a knack for moving around glasses and drinks, and as she was opening the bar getting ready to clean up and start the day, she found 3 beers stashed behind a mop bucket that definitely weren’t there the night before. Kinda spooky right? … But that’s about as close as I got to seeing any ghosts at Bucktown Pub. You’re more likely to hear some cool stories from the bar staff rather than down a cold one with casper. Sorry dudes.
However… here’s your best chance on how to see the ghost in action
Every Saturday night, Autumn told me that Wally knocks candles off this shelf. They’re extra candles for the tables that end up on the paper towel rack next to the kitchen. It happens every Saturday night. She made it sound like it’s a sure thing, and one of the bartenders even backed her up on that one.
Here’s your move: get there early and grab the stools at the end of the bar or one of the tables within eyeshot of these candles and you’ll see the hauntings firsthand. This Saturday would be perfect. They’re having a St. Patrick’s Day party with drink specials and a live band.
Loud music? Crowded bar? It could make for a very angry ghost.