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Chicagoist Wayback Machine: Geraldo's Big Nothing.

By Karl Klockars in Miscellaneous on Jun 23, 2007 3:30PM

It probably comes as no surprise when we say that we Chicagoistas have a touch of the news junkie to us. And even though we haven't been posting up on the "Family Secrets" trial too much this week, we certainly haven't been ignoring the largest Mob trial the city has seen in decades.

All the talk about This Thing Of Ours (...omerta...) reminded us of one of the most infamous events in journalism history, which took place at Michigan and Cermak a little over 21 years ago. Geraldo Rivera and that damned vault captured the attention of the nation for two hours in April of 1986. The opening of the vault itself wasn't the main thing we recall, although it's what Geraldo will likely always be remembered for.

Rather, it was the buildup to the vault's opening that we remember best. It was the traveling through decades-hidden concealed tunnels used for smuggling booze. It was the tour through Capone's kingdom back then, a world of booze and dames and G-men. And what kid doesn't dream of having a house full of hidden passages and doors behind bookshelves?

We all know that the image of Chicago has been permanently marred by the Prohibition era. Are we tired of people around the globe continuing to associate us with Tommy guns and bootlegging? Yeah, pretty much. Some of us are hoping for an Olympic bid to help erase that image, but until then we've resigned ourselves to dealing with it.

Search for Capone at the CBS 2 Video Archives and you'll find an excellent clip chronicling the program, but for our money, the clip below with Geraldo looking like a Bolivian gunrunner is pretty priceless. It's also pretty cool that Geraldo was willing to go back and revisit the program that made him look like a twit. Then again, he's done all right for himself over the years. You owe us, Rivera.

Image courtesy of My Al Capone Museum. Emails to