A True Halloween Tale: If Your Creativity Is Waning, Head To The Fulton Vortex

Hobbes at the Fulton Vortex

You say the sudden frigid, windy weather’s got you down? That bowl of Twizzlers and Milky Ways you’ve been digging into for Halloween just makes you feel sluggish?

Well, artists, artisans, architects—heck, writers, too—my suggestion: head over to the Fulton Vortex!

This little-known West Loop “attraction” is a bit of an outlier. It hasn’t raised any concerns from the cranky community organizations. NOWL and RFMA haven’t denounced or commended it. I don’t think it’s on the Chicago Landmark Council’s radar.

In Sedona, Arizona, vortexes come from spiraling spiritual energy. They are believed to be spiritual locations where energy flows that exists on multiple dimensions. The energy of the vortexes interacts with a person’s inner self.

A scenic locale like Sedona—yeah, a vortex there sounds plausible. But in the middle of the West Loop?

L Tracks CreatureI first learned of the Fulton Vortex when I was wandering around the nooks and crannies of the far northwest reaches of the West Loop, photographing unusual stuff. I guess unusual is in the eye of the beholder. One oddity I found was a painting of a four-legged snouted creature wearing high heels, at the base of the CTA elevated train girder.

Then things got weird. I spotted a sign at North May Street just south of West Fulton Market that read “Fulton Vortex.”

It pointed due west, into a grimy alley. I walked toward the vortex, wondering if I’d be swallowed up into the fourth dimension. Not feeling much of any tingling sensation, I headed to the neighboring businesses to see if anyone had information about this phenomenon.

Hobbes with gourdsPeter Mars from Mars Gallery at 1139 West Fulton Market was the most helpful. He explained that the building housing the gallery sits directly over an energy field. He said the vortex provides artists with inspiration and energy. When he first looked at the property some years back, Mars said he could even feel the energy and that he knew immediately it had the right karma. He said the back alley behind the gallery is where the REAL energy flows.

Mars also told me the vortex had some unpleasant side effects. It’s supposed to wreak havoc on relationships. And animals find the vortex to be freaky. Some dogs have been known to walk in circles when in the presence of a vortex.

Armed with this knowledge, I asked my cat Hobbes if he’d be interested in some fresh air. He looked at me blankly so I figured he was up for a little adventure. We attached his harness and took him for a walk directly into the vortex. Hobbes sniffed around a bit, checked out the vortex sign, checked out the apex of the vortex and then rolled on his back. Generally, that’s a sign of contentment. His tail was up as he walked, which also is cat-language for all is well.

Was the energy field out of whack that day? Or was Hobbes just immune to it? We may never know the answer. He’s not talking.



Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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