April 13, 2009
Life in Old Chicago: Wanna Body With That Beer?
Opening a tavern across the street from the Cook County Hospital definitely had its drawbacks for owner Nicholas Urbanus. The Urbanus saloon was located at 18th Street and Wentworth Avenue fronting the hospital at 18th and Arnold Street, which had opened in 1866.
On April 13, 1871, the boys were tossing back a few, having a good old time, and the talk turned toward "dead-houses." Patron Larry Ryan began boasting about the number of bodies he had taken from the grisly establishment. A couple of the lads left the establishment and Ryan followed.
The gaiety continued until a few minutes after 8 o'clock when the front door of the watering-hole was opened and the corpse of a young badly burned girl was flung through the opening. "The body was scarecely draped and presented a most hideous and revolting appearance," reported the Chicago Tribune.
Barkeep Urbanus quickly covered the poor girl and notified hospital authorities that one of their former patients was now located in his tavern. Mr. Urbanus also told reporters that this was not the first occurance of this kind.
Cook County Hospital (Encyclopedia of Chicago)
The History of Cook County Hospital
History of Hospital in Cook County
Photo credit: County of Cook: Milestones in Healthcare