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What Happened to the Ambassador East's Secret Tunnel?

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  Site Where: 1301 N. State Parkway [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60611
December 13, 2011 at 1:30 PM | by | ()

A few weeks ago we were chatting with a fellow hotel nerd about the new Public Hotel in Chicago, formerly known as the Ambassador East, when the topic of a secret tunnel came up. Yes, we were instantly hooked. Here's what we found out:

Way back when there was an Ambassador West which is the building across the street from Ambassador East/Public. At the turn of the new millennium, the building was still a hotel, a Wyndham Hotel, but today it's been turned into luxury condos worth well over a million bucks a piece. But back to the secret tunnel.

During the heydey of Ambassador East, the tunnel was use to spirit its rich and famous guests to safety away from the paparazzi. But the secret tunnel was initially created so that guests could go back and forth between the hotels without having to cross the busy street. Which is kind of laughable today because the Gold Coast nabe is very residential.

We found this old Chatting With Emily blog post (no relation to our chatter) which says that sometimes guest would arrive at one hotel, only to find out there room was in the opposite hotel. But instead of having to cross the street again, they could just continue through the tunnel.

The blog also reports that there were two tunnels that ran parallel to each other--one for guests and one for staff. The guest tunnel was known as Sarah Siddon's Walkway, after the woman who supposedly brought the theater to America.

While the tunnels are supposedly closed today, when you head down to the restrooms below Public you can get an idea of where the tunnel might be. But we can't help but wonder if Ian Schrager has special access. Maybe this is where the really A-list go after dining at the Pump Room? Nah, we're just wishful hotel thinking as always. Or are we?

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