A Hidden World Under Streets of Chicago


In my newest book, Angel Lost, Angel Found, my heroine, Charity O’Malley, the proprietress of a speakeasy, gets deliveries of illegal liquor through a series of underground tunnels. I didn’t use writers’ license to make my point. Chicago has sixty miles of forgotten tunnels under the city.

Have any of you been to The Billy Goat Tavern, made famous by John Belushi of SNL fame, or braved the daunting street traffic of Lower Wacker Drive? This is only one level of underground streets below the city of Chicago. The tunnels I relate to in my book were built forty feet below street level between 1899 and 1914 to carry freight, coal, merchandise, and mail.The tunnels connected stores, warehouses, and delivery points. Some were hidden and some just overlooked. They are 6 ft. wide by 7 ft. 6 in. high, lined with waterproof concrete, dry and airy. They are a constant 55°. It’s not a reach to speculate these tunnels would have been handy to bootleggers and speakeasies.

In current downtown Chicago, a series of underground tunnels called The Pedway are marked by a sign with a distinctive black and gold compass logo. Short for “pedestrian walkway,” this maze-like system of semi-public hallways connects the basements of over fifty Loop buildings. You can get a haircut, get a clock fixed, grab a coffee, shop for a blender, or order new license plates down there. The Pedway spans forty blocks under the central business district and was originally built for downtown travelers to pass between buildings without dealing with inclement weather.

Remember the tunnels of Chicago when Charity braves them to follow her dreams.


Annalisa Russo is a published author and master storyteller based in Chicago, IL. Currently writing with The Wild Rose Press, she has just released her fourth book: Angel Lost, Angel Found. You can read more about it and the author at annalisarusso.com.

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Keep It Simple!

January 10, 2016

I get the mail and receive a copy of the Winter/Spring Park District Catalogue of Events for my small community. I thumb through four pages of adult fitness classes: Power Fit 45, Saturday Cardio Challenge, Pilates, hardCORE yoga, Gentle Yoga, Yoga Intensity, Vinyassa Yoga, Barre’ Yoga Fusion, Zumba, Cardio Kickboxing, Pump It!, Sculpt It!, Hit It P.O.W.E.R, etc. I’m exhausted from just reading the options, so I make myself a pot of tea, grab a legal pad, sit in my favorite spot and write at the top: KEEP IT SIMPLE!

—think small.

So…I write my 2016 goals:

  • I will eat more fruit and fish. I will read labels.
  • I will move more and sit less.
  • When I buy a can of vegetables, I will buy one for the local food pantry.
  • I will clean one room of my house per day.
  • I will be a better friend.

(Don’t limit yourself to the serious stuff)

  • I will take a short trip: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sounds right for 2016.
  • I will finally take a fun class, maybe flower arranging or butterfly gardening.
  • And I will write 1500 words a day on Angel Boy:Seth’s Story, but not beat myself up if I go for ice cream instead.

I take a break and drink my tea. I find I’m looking forward to 2016 instead of feeling guilty for not completing my goals of 2015. So, I challenge you—pick a few small goals, achieve success, keep it simple!

Happy New Year!


Annalisa Russo is published author and master storyteller based in Chicago, IL. In addition to writing with The Wild Rose Press, she has just released her fourth book: Angel Lost, Angel Found. You can read more about it at www.annalisarusso.com.

The Best Books I Read In December

December is a month when most of us are busy and cold. These factors and the promise of holiday treats encourage me to curl up in front of the fire and crack open a book. Here are five of my favorites from December. What books did you read or re-read in December?

The Christmas Diary: by Elyse Douglas

Secret Sisters: by Jayne Ann Krentz

Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog: by Grant Peterson

The Cinderella Murder: by Mary Higgins Clarke

The Welcoming: by Nora Roberts

Click here for more of my favorite reads and reviews.