Home > Chi Town Views > “Bathhouse” John Coughlin; Chicago Alderman / Poet / Barkeep

“Bathhouse” John Coughlin; Chicago Alderman / Poet / Barkeep

Uploaded by on Jan 26, 2012

Chicago’s 1st ward encompasses the wealth of downtown and the large population of transients that used to populate the near south side. A combination that made it a powerfull aldermanic post. John “Bathouse” Coughlin was a flamboyant character who was alderman for more than forty years. For a good portion of those decades he along with his partner Mike “Hinky Dink” Kenna were the center of power in Chicago. Mike McDonald may have been the first vice baron in Chicago but The Bath and The Hink were the first to really organize vice and gambling and turn it into political power in the Windy City. Big Jim Colissimo was a bagman for them before inheriting their vice racket.

In this clip we see a pair of establishments The Bath operated on Madison st. In downtown Chicago. Where St. Peters church now stands used to be the spot where the Brevoort Hotek once stood, In the basement of this luxury hotel (the first in Chicago with an elevator) was John’s bathhouse. Just a few doors west is where he operated the Silver Dollar Saloon.
And if three careers were not enough Mr. Coughlin was also a poet and a bon vivant who wanted to lead a revolution in man’s dress.

So out hats off to you Bathhouse John you might have been a corrupt grafter but you were an honest one. If you’d like to read more about John and his partner try and track down a copy of “Lords of the Levee” by Wendt & Kogan at your library.

This clip is part of a series produced by MindsiMedia and presented on ChiTownView ‘s YouTube station. We are getting some Chicago crime history in HBO’s series “Boardwalk Empire” and more will be on display when the film version of Eric Larsen’s “Devil In The White City”. Our series shows some of the famous places in Chicago crime history as they exist today. While telling some of that history with each clip.

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