Bathhouse John Coughlin

1st Ward Alderman (1892-1938)

Born 1869, Died 1938

Growing up in a rough Irish neighborhood in Chicago known as "Connelly's Patch,"1 "Bathhouse" John Coughlin was perhaps the most powerful clown Chicago had ever had. Along with Michael Hinky Dink Kenna, he controlled the 1st ward district for over four decades.

Coughlin started out as a "rubber" in a bathhouse when he was young. It was there that he made many contacts among both the underworld and respectable society. In 1882 he was able to purchase and run his own bathhouse, and it was then that he began his reputation for dressing extremely fancy. With his straightforward delivery and egalitarian philosophy, his word was readily trusted. When he entered politics, he was immediately known as "Bathhouse" John.2

Among other things, Coughlin was remembered for his poetry, which he would often read at city council meetings. The memorable titles included, "She Sleeps by the Drainage Canal," "Ode to a Bath Tub," and "They're Tearing Up Clark Street Again."3

He died November 8, 1938 - $56,000 in debt.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License