Al Capone (1899-1947)

Principal author: Homer Johnson.
Tom Nall and Dona Vitale also contributed.

Gangster Al Capone reportedly came to Chicago in 1920 from New York at the behest of John Torrio, who was also from the Brooklyn neighborhood where Capone was born. A decade earlier, Giaccomo “Diamond Jim” Colosimo, a leading vice and gambling kingpin in Chicago’s notoriously corrupt First Ward south of downtown brought Torrio, who was his wife’s nephew, to be his bodyguard and enforcer. 

By the end of World War I, Torrio, nicknamed Johnny “The Fox,” was managing Colosimo’s empire of more than 200 brothels, several “resorts” that added gambling to the prostitution, and “Colosimo’s,” a popular restaurant at 2126 South Wabash. When Prohibition took effect, Torrio pushed Colosimo to start bootlegging but “Diamond Jim” was satisfied with the revenue and lifestyle from his entertainment empire and refused to expand to new and riskier ventures.

Likely as part of a strategy to take over Colosimo’s operation, Torrio brought 21-year-old Alphonse Capone to Chicago in 1920 to work as a bouncer at “The Four Deuces,” a tavern and brothel at 2222 South Wabash. Capone’s older brother Ralph came from Brooklyn two years later, and both became Torrio underlings. On May 11, 1920, Colosimo was gunned down by unknown assailants in his empty restaurant just a  block away, and Torrio stepped in to take over operations, with Alphonse “Scarface” Capone as his trusted ally.

While Capone is almost always associated with Chicago’s south side and west suburban Cicero, he may not have in either of these locations at the beginning of his time in Chicago. No evidence exists as to exactly where he lived until the first time we found a mention of Capone in a Chicago newspaper.

A Chicago Tribune article from 1923 [1] describes a petition by the Cook County States Attorney asking the Illinois Supreme Court to void the law authorizing politically appointed Justices of the Peace (“J.P.s”) to issue permits to carry guns. As the onset of Prohibition created new conflicts between criminal gangs, corrupt Cook County J.P.s pocketed fees for issuing permits rather freely to anyone willing to pay, and law enforcement officials sought to have the law declared unconstitutional. In its report, the Tribune focused on permits issued by a single Cicero J.P., giving the names and addresses of some of those who had paid up to $25 for permits. The list included John Torrio, at 7011 South Clyde in the elegant Jackson Park Highlands area of South Shore; Ralph Capone, who said he resided at The Grand Hotel in Cicero; and Alphonse Capone, whose address was 6832 North Sheridan Road in Rogers Park. The permits were issued in the spring or summer of 1923.

Did Al Capone really live in Rogers Park? Or, did he give a phony location to hide where he really lived?

One reason for doubting the address is that by 1923, Capone was often mentioned as the owner and manager of the Four Deuces, and 2222 South Wabash is a substantial distance from Rogers Park. The Chicago Daily News seemed to think it was unlikely, because Sheridan Road was “a neighborhood that presumably has little contact with such men as frequent the Four Deuces.”[2] But, Capone owned a car, making for an easy commute to his establishment, and the addresses given by Torrio and Ralph Capone seem to be accurate, so it is reasonable to believe that Al, too, gave his correct address. Several other pieces of evidence also lead us to conclude that the most notorious gangster in Chicago history was, in fact, briefly a Rogers Park resident.


The Capone family verifies the Sheridan Road address

In 1950, Ralph Capone testified before the Senate Committee on Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, known popularly as the Kefauver Committee. [3] In testimony recorded on December 20, 1950, Ralph was asked when he came to Chicago, to which he replied he came in February, 1922, and worked as a bartender in a roadhouse. When asked where he lived when he came, he answered that he first lived with his brother Al at Farwell and Sheridan, then moved to Wabash Avenue and still later moved again to be closer to his roadhouse job. Cicero was part of what was known as “the  roadhouse belt,” so Ralph’s 1923 Cicero address seems to be correct. Oddly, Ralph also stated that he had a short-lived business on Howard Street in the mid-1930s called Waukesha Waters. Research shows the business was a distributor of mineral water and other bar and hotel supplies that operated until at least 1941 from several different addresses in Chicago, but we were unable to find evidence of an address on Howard Street.

Ralph’s 1950 testimony collaborates the 1923 address given by Al Capone for the gun permit. 6832 Sheridan is at the corner of Farwell and Sheridan. Other collaboration comes from statements in two family memoirs, one by Al’s granddaughter, Diane Capone, [4] and another by his grandniece, Deirdre Capone.[4] Both women state that Al rented the apartment for his family, and we know that his wife Mae and baby son Albert Francis (called Sonny) joined Al in Chicago from Brooklyn sometime after 1920. The Sheridan address would have been ideal for a young family, as it across the street from a park, beach and fishing pier, and Morse Avenue and Sheridan Road shopping areas were each only a block or two away.

The ”Capone” Building Lives On

The next question is whether the building currently found at Sheridan and Farwell, which houses Giordano’s Pizza on the first floor, is the same building in which the Capones live in 1922-23. The short answer is yes, it is!

The Rogers Park Directory for 1919 and the 1920 U.S. Census have no listings for 6832 North Sheridan, but there are listings for several residences on the same block up to and including 6830 Sheridan. From this we conclude that the corner lot was vacant. So, the next question is when was the lot developed, and what kind of building did it hold? 

The Chicago Building Permit database yields the answer: A building permit was issued on March 21, 1921, for a three-story building with first-floor storefronts and flats above, at 6832-34-36 North Sheridan. The expected construction cost was $125,000. (In 2024, the cost would be the equivalent of about $1.6 million.) According to the permit, the building was completed in December 1921.[6]

Apparently, the building had retail spaces on the first floor and apartments above. In 1923, an ad offered the second floor for rent as a suite suitable for a medical or dental office for $125 a month, while the third-floor rent was $100. Both apparently were 4-room apartments with a sun parlor, “in-a-dor (sic) bed” and a view of the lake.[7] On October 27, 1924, a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune lists Nechins Pharmacy at 6836 Sheridan as one of many places to get a free sample of a new product, Kleenex, called “the new sanitary cold-cream remover.”[8] Other ads for the storefronts promote space suitable for a beauty shop or offer a millinery and ladies’ lingerie shop for sale.[9]

Ralph Capone testified that he lived in the building when he came to Chicago in early 1922, and first time the address appears in Chicago newspaper archives is on December 27, 1922 in an item about Dr. Louis Wolf.[6] There are no more mentions until the address appears in the gun permit article on September 21, 1923. 

Chicago Tribune, October 22, 1923.
Chicago Tribune, August 17, 1924
Chicago Tribune, August 18, 1924
Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1924
Nechins Pharmacy at 6836 N. Sheridan is one of the stores included in this listing.

By that time, it is likely that the Capones had already moved out, because two days later, on September 23, an ad appeared for a four-room apartment for rent at this address, followed by others over the next month.[7] The timing of these ads coincides with the claim that in August 1923, Capone bought a two-story residence at 7244 South Prairie Avenue in the Park Manor neighborhood less than three miles from his gang boss and mentor, Johnny Torrio. He moved in with his mother, wife, and son, on August 8, according to an article about the 2019 sale of the home.[10] 

Salvatore Capone's funeral Notice in 1924

Capone listed this address as his family’s primary residence for the rest of his time in Chicago, although he also occasionally claimed to live at other locations in Chicago and Cicero. In 1924, another Capone brother, Salvatore (known as Frank Caponi) was assassinated in Cicero, and his funeral was conducted at the Prairie Avenue home. In 1950, Ralph’s testimony to the Kefauver Committee confirmed he had also lived there from time to time, and that the home was then owned by his mother and sister. 

Meanwhile, back in Rogers Park, the Chicago Tribune reported in November, 1927 that a Capone associate, “West Side” Frankie Pope, had been arrested in conjunction with a vicious bombing that was part of a war between gangs. He gave 6832 Sheridan as his residence, four years after the Capone family left.[11] Perhaps his boss had recommended the apartment, or perhaps it’s merely a coincidence.

So, the answer to the question, “Did Al Capone live in Rogers Park?” is Yes. In 1922-1923, he and his family lived in the building currently at that address. We don’t know for sure which apartment he lived in, but the “For Rent” ad that first appeared in the Chicago Tribune on September 22, 1923 advertised a 3rd floor apartment, with a view of the lake. It could be coincidence, but the timing is perfect. If our logic is correct, the 3rd floor apartment at 6832 was the apartment of Chicago’s first Public Enemy No. 1.

The authors appreciate the valuable information provided by Mario Gomes (, Adam Selzer (, John Binder, the author of two excellent books on Al Capone, and John Daoulas, the owner of the building at 6832 Sheridan and Giordano’s Pizza, 6836 North Sheridan on the first floor.

About the author: Homer Johnson

Homer Johnson first arrived in Rogers Park in 1964 after taking a job as a Psychology professor at Loyola University and soon became an active volunteer in the neighborhood, including first joining RPWHS in the 1970s. Johnson was involved in the campaign to pass the Lakefront Protection Ordinance in 1973 and was a key figure in the fight to save Warren Park, both of which were major movements in local activism in the 70s. After being drawn into these causes, he served as President of the RP Community Council and was also president of the school councils at both Kilmer Elementary and Sullivan High School. Homer became the chair of Loyola’s psychology department in 1973 and taught at the university until his retirement. Since retiring Johnson has moved into the Admiral Retirement Center in Edgewater, but remains active in Rogers Park community causes, including the RPWHS Task Force behind the Campaign for Pollard Park.

Sources cited in this article:

  1. “To Ask Supreme Court to Ban ‘Gun Toting’ Permits,” Chicago Tribune, September 21, 1923.
  2. “Caponi Killing Shows Gun-Licensing Laxity,” Chicago Daily News, April 24, 1924. 
  3. Report on the Investigation of Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce Hearings, Part 5, containing transcribed testimony at hearings conducted in Illinois. Testimony of Ralph Capone, December 20, 1950, pages 1226-1250.
  4. Al Capone: Stories My Grandmother Told Me, by Diane Patricia Capone, published January 1, 2019 and available at
  5. Uncle Al Capone – The Untold Story from Inside His Family, by Deirdre Marie Capone, published October 27, 2010, revised in 2015 and available at
  6. Chicago Building Permit #59213, issued to B. H. Rosen, March 21, 1921.
  7. “Only a Few Left,” Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1923 and “For Rent: S.W. Corner Sheridan & Farwell,” Chicago Tribune, October 22, 1923. 
  8. “Free this week only – a sample package of Kleenex” Chicago Tribune, October 27, 1924.
  9. To Rent, Stores-North, Chicago Tribune, August 17 & 18, 1924.
  10. “Al Capone’s old Chicago home for sale, with hints of a secret tunnel,” USA Today, February 13, 2019.
  11. “Bomb No. 7 in Gang Warfare: Blast Resorts on West Side; Capone Leaves,” Chicago Tribune, November 29, 1927.