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The Bat Cave at McCormick Place

The “Bat Cave” tunnel is accessible to a select few.

It was 2012. I was on a bus with a bunch of Chicago civic leaders, on our way to McCormick Place to join hundreds of international dignitaries for the NATO summit. My travel companions, no strangers to high-profile events with high-profile people, made blasé small talk about being wanded by Homeland Security guards and sniffed by the canine corps. Then the group fell silent. The bus had entered a tunnel none of us had ever seen. We peered out the windows, trying to get our bearings—it was like Lower Wacker Drive, but darker and utterly devoid of traffic and pedestrians. Later I learned that the two-and-a-half-mile tunnel is a restricted access route used by only the mayor, the Cook County Board president, and certain tour buses with security clearance—and that Rahm Emanuel calls it the Bat Cave. Suddenly we all felt pretty important.

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