The Green Mill
12 September 2019
There’s no better way to enjoy the offbeat rhythm of jazz than in hallowed halls graced by Al Capone himself. Only a short ride from 1000M in Chicago’s north side Uptown neighborhood, The Green Mill is a timeless, history-filled jazz club, and the perfect place to get swanky in the city.
A Shady and Thrilling Past
The business was first opened in 1907 under the name Pop Morse’s Roadhouse, but eventually earned the name The Green Mill a few years later as a nod to the Parisian Moulin Rouge, or Red Mill. In its early years, the lounge was a favorite hangout of film actors flocking from the nearby Essanay Studios.
During the Prohibition Era of the 20s and 30s, Jack McGurn of the Chicago Outfit became part-owner. His mafia was run by none other than Al Capone. McGurn ensured that the lounge was gangster friendly. When Capone stepped in the door, the artist on stage would stop their song dead in its tracks to immediately play a rendition of “Rhapsody in Blue,” Capone’s favorite tune. Capone, McGurn and company also had a favorite booth — one situated to have clear views of both doors to the lounge. The booth still stands in the joint today, and it’s even rumored that an underground network of tunnels that the mafia used to escape the police and smuggle booze are still standing, too.
Most famously during this time, performer Joe E. Lewis attempted to ditch The Green Mill in favor of a higher-paying gig elsewhere, and had his throat slashed by McGurn and his boys. Lewis miraculously survived the incident, but the whole affair eventually inspired the Frank Sinatra film The Joker is Wild.
The Green Mill Today
Since 1986, the Green Mill has been under the ownership of Dave Jemilo, who revitalized the club and made it what it is today.
The Green Mill remains a place to enjoy some of the best jazz around, from local and international artists. The Green Mill is also home to the renowned Uptown Poetry Slam, a Sunday evening tradition. The venue’s creative reach doesn’t stop there, however: The Green Mill now also hosts The Paper Machete, a “live magazine” show featuring comedians, journalists, storytellers, musicians, actors and more that all bring their unique voice to the stage.
With both a colorful past and a bright present, the Green Mill continues to stand as it once did in the 40s, with an art deco interior and good vibes that are hard to find matched elsewhere.
The Green Mill is located at 4802 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640. They’re open Monday-Friday 12 PM – 4 AM, Saturday 12 PM – 5 AM and Sunday 11 AM – 4 AM. You can view their full calendar here.