It’s Like Stepping into Another Time: Explore 11 Mesmerizing Abandoned Places near Chicago

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Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.

Uncover the silent narratives of the Windy City’s history as we traverse through 11 of the creepiest abandoned places near Chicago. Venture into the heart of the city’s past, explore the eerie beauty of forgotten places, and learn about the remarkable transformation of these long-forgotten gems!

Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s School


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The Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s School, a relic of the Civil War era, provides an intriguing exploration into the past. Venture through its restored buildings, each recounting the lives of those it once housed, and gain a deeper understanding of its rich history. Uncover the poignant stories of the children who lived there, echoed in the quiet corners of the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, making ISSCS a remarkably moving destination for history enthusiasts.

City Methodist Church

Abandoned places near Chicago
Image Credit: Peter Fitzgerald on Wikimedia Commons.

Found in Gary, Indiana, just a 30-mile drive from Chicago, the City Methodist Church is one of the most intriguing abandoned places near Chicago and offers a fascinating look into the ebb and flow of Midwestern history. This once bustling hub of faith and community, now silent and weather-beaten, invites explorers to tread its hallowed halls and discover an untold narrative shaped by social dynamics and time. Its derelict beauty, further emphasized by the remnants of a bygone era, has even attracted a niche crowd for one-of-a-kind goth weddings.

Damen Silos


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Rooted in Chicago’s grain industry history, the Damen Silos offers a unique encounter with the city’s past. Urban explorers can wander through the labyrinthine tunnels and silos, now vibrant canvases for graffiti artists. This iconic waterfront landmark also featured in 2014’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction”, and offers presents an unparalleled view of the Chicago skyline, but be warned it is not a safe area to climb.

Palace Theater


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Once an emblem of grandeur, the Palace Theater in Gary, Indiana, invites visitors on a profound exploration of urban decay. Designed by renowned architect John Eberson in 1925, the now abandoned theater echoes tales of a prosperous era now long gone. This fallen gem, with its skeletal exterior, has transformed into a must-visit tourist destination for photographers and urban explorers, each seeking to capture the intriguing beauty of its desolation.

Chicago Freight Tunnels

Chicago Freight Tunnels, Chicago
Image Credit: John Tolva on Flickr.

Dive into the underground history of Chicago with the Chicago Freight Tunnels, a hidden network of narrow-gauge railway tunnels beneath the city’s bustling streets. Despite being sealed after a catastrophic flood in 1992, these dark tunnels continue to attract urban explorers eager to uncover the secrets of this once-thriving subterranean freight system. It’s a journey into the heart of Chicago’s industrial past, wrapped in intrigue and adventure.

Joliet Correctional Center

Joliet Correctional Center, Chicago
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The Joliet Correctional Center, a famed site for TV shows and movies, including Prison Break and The Blues Brothers, now invites visitors for guided tours and is one of the more famous abandoned places near Chicago. Managed by the Joliet Area Historical Museum, this former prison provides an exceptional glimpse into its storied past. Whether you’re interested in history, Hollywood or photography, this National Historic Place offers a unique experience.

Pullman Company

Pullman, Chicago
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The Pullman Company, an iconic relic of industrial America, offers a unique peek into late 19th-century life. The imposing Administration Building and clock tower, remnants of a once thriving planned community, make for fascinating exploration. Now a National Monument plans for restoration promise future opportunities for visitors to delve deeper into this unique chapter of Chicago’s history.

Glessner House


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Explore the remarkable Glessner House, a National Historic Landmark and testament to Chicago’s architectural legacy. Discover the intriguing life of former resident Francis Glessner Lee and revel in the eerie tales and creepy history of its architect’s ghost. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a fan of the supernatural, the Glessner House offers an immersive experience.

Lawndale Theater


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The Lawndale Theater, once a bustling cinematic and entertainment hub in Chicago, is now marked by an alluring silence. Its storied past, which includes British silent films, boxing nights, mob ownership, and a stint as a church, paints a vivid portrait of the city’s history. Today, its abandoned state on Roosevelt Road resonates with a majestic decay that sparks the imagination.

Brach’s Candy Factory

Brach's Candy Factory, Chicago
Image Credit: Ashley Bree Photography on Flickr.

Explore the fading glory of Brach’s Candy Factory, a silent testament to the Windy City’s confectionary past and a hot spot for those looking for abandoned places near Chicago. Once an industry titan producing a staggering array of sweets, it now stands abandoned, yet its presence as a film set in The Dark Knight has kept its legacy alive. Despite plans for demolition, it remains a poignant reminder of the city’s sugary heritage.

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

Abandoned church
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The last spot on our list of abandoned places near Chicago is Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. The restored bell tower, worn bricks, and tranquil garden offer a sense of calm amidst urban life. While current plans to transform the tower into artist studios are yet to materialize, the church remains a captivating symbol of Pilsen’s past.

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