California Boulevard is not the most scenic of the Chicago boulevards, as a majority of the views on this route are of the Cook County Jail and the Cook County Criminal Courts.
With a daily population of approximately 9,000 inmates, the Cook County Department of Corrections is one of the nations largest county jails. The majority of detainees in the facility are awaiting trial. Situated on 96 acres, the Department of Corrections complex contains 11 separate divisions, each headed by its own superintendent, but when the jail opened in 1929, it consisted of just one building.
Severe overcrowding has been a problem since the facility opened on April Fools Day, 1929. However, in recent years the inmate population has declined, which according to some experts is the result of lower crime rates, but could also be due to fewer arrests. The Cook County Jail has housed numerous celebrity criminals over the years. Al Capone, Frank Nitti, Jeff Fort, Richard Speck, and John Wayne Gacy all spent time in Cook County Jail. It has also served as the setting for the 1975 Tony-nominated musical Chicago.
While the Cook County Criminal Courts building might not have the infamous reputation of the jail, the Latin inscription, S-P-Q-C, which stands for Senatus Populusque Chicago the Senate and People of Chicago easily identifies the neoclassical building.