Andrew HamiltonExtracts

How Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport Got Its Name

WWII flying ace Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare, father Eddie J. O’Hare, and Chicago gangster Al Capone

From Stephen Fox, Blood and Power: Organized Crime in Twentieth-Century America (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1989):

THE Sportsman’s Park track in Cicero was run for [Italian mobster] Capone by [Irishman] Edward J. O’Hare, an adroit lawyer whose deft touch brought him the nickname of Artful Eddie. A polite sophisticate of temperate habits, a rare orchid among the Capones, devoted to his only son, O’Hare imagined he could keep the rest of his life separate from his mob associates. But he could not. Later he managed dog tracks in Missouri, Florida, and Massachusetts for the Capones. (p. 100)

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[O’Hare] was devoted to his [half Irish, half German] only son, peppering his conversations with the latest exploits of “my son, Butch.” He hoped Butch might attend the naval academy at Annapolis, but he knew such an appointment would be jeopardized by his own criminal history. To break with Capone, then, and—as he explained it—to get Butch into Annapolis, O’Hare became an informer, feeding the government crucial tips about Capone’s tax case. According to an IRS agent working on the case, O’Hare’s assistance was “the most important single factor resulting in the conviction of Al Capone.” But Capone apparently learned of O’Hare’s treachery. From jail in 1937 he threatened to kill O’Hare. Two years later, just before Capone was released, O’Hare was murdered in gangster style. Butch O’Hare did go to Annapolis. In World War II he was a navy pilot, shooting down seven Japanese planes in one dogfight, receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, before he was killed in action. The airport in Chicago was named for him. (pp. 172-173)

Immediate aftermath of the shotgun murder of Edward J. O’Hare, Chicago, 1939

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Source: Andrew Hamilton

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