The Jonquil

The women in the mugshots is clearly disgusted. It looks like she just got a whiff of something nauseating and she’s angry about it.

Given the hair, make-up and clothes, it will come as no surprise that the photos were taken in 1960. The woman was suspected of running a prostitution business out of her bar, the Dude Ranch, a tavern located at 1600 W. Jonquil Terrace in Chicago.

The vice cops decided to run a prostitution sting at the tavern. It worked and she was accused of trying to bribe a policeman $200 to drop the charges.

The sex happens at a run down flop house called the Jonquil Hotel, located around the corner from the bar. Another women was charged with “being an inmate in a house of prostitution.” The bartender was charged with “steering to a house of prostitution.”

The Jonquil Hotel, circa 1970; Howard Area Community Center Archives

The Jonquil Hotel wasn’t always a bad place. When it opened in 1921, it was an apartment hotel advertised as “a gift to Chicago’s bachelors.” Furnished rooms rented for $10 a week and included a bathroom with a shower. The first floor boasted a restaurant and shops.

It’s hard to say exactly when the hotel’s decline began, but in 1947 a man committed suicide by gun in his room. The front desk clerk died of a heart ailment while on duty in 1950. In 1957 a man leaped from a third floor bathroom window to his death in the alley behind the hotel. By 1960 the restaurant and shops were long gone and rooms rented by the hour. Robberies of hotel guests were not uncommon.

The Dude Ranch caught fire the month after the arrests, with damages estimated at $10,000. Possibly it was arson—an effort to extract insurance cash from a doomed business.

The Dude Ranch went out of business after the fire. The woman in the mugshots ended up paying a $1000 fine. The bartender got a prison sentence. The woman accused of being a sex worker jumped bail and left town.

In the 1970s, the Jonquil Hotel was repurposed as a homeless shelter.

Featured photo, collection of the author.

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