Uptown Theatre

4816 N. Broadway,
Chicago, IL 60640

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RickB on December 11, 2017 at 9:28 am

The future of the Uptown: as murky as ever. Crain’s Chicago Business story here.

WilliamMcQuade on June 7, 2017 at 10:08 am

Live in NYC but have been in it a few times. You in Chicago should know how fragile they are. You lost the Southtown,Tivoli,Nortown,Granada and most of the loop theaters. Lesson 1. Do not put your faith in politicians as they will screw you every time. Secondly,they can be reused as The Kings And Brooklyn Paramount are. It would be an act of civic vandalism if this came down. Get civic minded people together to save it. Good luck

WilliamMcQuade on March 24, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Lou. I live in NY. No one ever thought the Paramount or Roxy would come down What about the scores of theaters torn down in Chicago? If someone throws enough money around it will be gone in the blink of an eye sad to say

DavidZornig on March 22, 2017 at 8:35 pm

Chance to tour the Uptown without taking photos for $250. Or $100 for Ward residents.


LouRugani on February 10, 2017 at 5:35 pm

There’s a political problem that has been the main cause of inaction on the UPTOWN. The UPTOWN is privately controlled by an entity formed by the partners behind Jam Productions but no private operator wants to lay out the millions necessary for restoration; they’re looking for public funds. There’s a history of public investment in Chicago, but it’s politically difficult right now for public entities to invest that money because of other priorities, as simple as that. But then there’s the relatively small capacity of the UPTOWN compared with Wrigley Field, and the newer issue of performers getting ever higher cuts from touring and needing a lot of seats. You’d be left with stand-up comics and nostalgia acts, neither of which are ideal for the space.

For decades, dedicated UPTOWN preservationists have argued the theatre needs to be at the heart of a new entertainment district involving retail, restaurants and the other venues. A sound argument, but such a district did develop around the Wrigley ballpark a mile or so to the south. One could merge into the other, especially since Wrigleyville is hosting more and more live entertainment.

Either way, nobody will ever dare to knock the UPTOWN Theatre down. (Chris Jones, CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

DavidZornig on February 2, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Regina Spektor’s new music video that was shot in the Uptown. Video embedded in the below article.


BobbyS on April 10, 2016 at 1:27 pm

The doors of the Rialto would not open without tax money. City council gives the theatre $600,000 quarterly. No idea how much the state gives yearly. Buts it’s plenty I bet. The events booked are one nighters with shows that travel the nation from city to city. Yes they do alot of weddings, but expenses are high. Probably the same for the Genesse theater in Waukegan, IL which changed hands many times since it was restored. Can you imagine how much the Uptown would have to make to fill all those seats and to make a profit and pay all of the bills & taxes to the city of Chicago. These palaces were built with the idea of filling seats three or four times daily!

LuisV on April 7, 2016 at 4:34 am

I think the Kings is doing well. They just celebrated their first year!

BobbyS on April 6, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Without money coming in on a regular basis, these places cannot exist…all the movies and music acts mentioned above. Just heard the Rialto Theatre in Joliet is closing this month. The city is withholding their share and of course the state still owes them a grant from last year. Two events planned in April demanded their money in advance. Vendors from previous shows have not be paid in months. I wonder how the King’s in NY is doing and if they are filling up the seats?

Scott on April 6, 2016 at 4:57 pm

David, I believe you’re correct about JAM being the only one at the sale. However, at the time I was thinking that their interest was really in controlling the property, rather than spearheading a renovation. I am probably wrong about that, but it is curious nothing has happened with the theatre since. I realize there are a myriad of hurdles standing in the way of re-development, none of which are JAM’s fault. The Uptown Theatre is an incredible building with a multitude of factors working against it.

DavidZornig on April 6, 2016 at 3:21 pm

As I recall, when JAM first obtained ownership, they were the only ones who had showed up at the sale. The city later wanted JAM to partner with Live Nation on the Uptown, who the city was already in bed with at the former Charter One Pavilion I think. Partnering with Live Nation would never happen according to JAM at the time. There are details of it and the reasons why, buried in the comments dating back to 2008 or `09. I recall an article mentioning an old, leaked Live Nation e-mail that said “Kill, crush, destroy JAM. (Which still comes up on Google) I also recall that back then the Uptown needed an estimated 30 million in asbestos removal. Live Nation once had ownership of a much smaller theatre/venue in Nashville I think, that also had a recording studio in it. And they couldn’t even keep that open. So their input likely would not have been of any importance to JAM, even if they had partnered. As JAM has successfully owned and ran the Riviera for decades. I believe they only manage the Aragon. Discussed in previous threads too, was the types of shows that would need to run almost constantly after reopening, to break even on the huge cost of all the needed renovations. And mainly music shows at that, since road shows of say Broadway In Chicago would likely not have adequate load-in. Or the ability to sell 4000+ seats regularly. In my opinion converting to digital projection so films could again be run on off nights, might pick up the slack. Larger music acts would likely opt for the United Center to guarantee a larger payout.

Scott on April 6, 2016 at 9:55 am

Hi Bobby. I suspect you’re right about JAM expecting government assistance from a combination of city, state, or federal programs. I also suspect, though I have nothing to back it up, that JAM wanted the Uptown to keep other players, such as Livent, from getting a major foothold in the Uptown neighborhood. A restored Uptown Theatre could divert some shows away from JAM’s Aragon Ballroom and Riviera Theatre, which would threaten their viability.

BobbyS on April 5, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Hi Scott! I really believe they thought the City of Chicago would kick in and pledge the $$$$$$$ since they have a favorite son in Washington. Eight years later, Chicago is as broke as a church mouse!

Scott on April 5, 2016 at 4:32 pm

No doubt JAM has tax deductible expenses associated with the Uptown, but it doesn’t make sense to keep a property like this just to have deductible expenses. It’s better not to have the expense in the first place. I have questioned JAM’s intentions with the Uptown since they won the bid to purchase the theatre in 2008.

stantheman2016 on February 15, 2016 at 8:36 am

The Uptown Theater on Broadway Avenue has been closed since 1981. I’m sick of looking at it. Restore it to its former greatness or knock it down already. Right now its just a tax write off.

LouRugani on February 11, 2016 at 4:14 pm

On the positive side, the chaser mechanism kept the bulbs off for fractions of a second. With modern technology I’m sure the LEDs could be made to be not only tungsten-color-correct but, more importantly, avoid the sudden harsh On/Off that gives away LED bulb usage. They’re even making LED Edison-look “carbon” bulbs now.

BobbyS on February 11, 2016 at 8:22 am

Thanks Lou..I can imagine the electric bill was HUGE !!

LouRugani on February 10, 2016 at 5:49 pm

They’re 11-watt S-14 sign bulbs.

BobbyS on February 10, 2016 at 8:44 am

The marquee bulbs were so bright and made quite a statement at night. What wattage was each bulb? So much better than the LED’S of today. I do not like the led lights the Chicago now has on their marquee.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 10, 2016 at 6:27 am

The Uptown was the largest movie theatre ever designed by the architectural firm of Rapp & Rapp. It was also one of only three theatres by Rapp & Rapp with more than 4,000 seats, the two others being the Brooklyn Paramount and the Michigan in Detroit.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 7, 2016 at 9:00 am

The Uptown Theatre had its grand opening on August 18th, 1925, a date that was somehow not included with the ad posted in the Photos Section.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 6, 2016 at 1:57 pm

It ought to be mentioned in the introduction that the Uptown was the largest movie/vaudeville theatre in Chicago, and the 12th largest in the USA, according to records kept by Theatre Historical Society of America. And in Chicago, the Uptown was larger than any such in the entertainment hub known as “The Loop.”

LuisV on January 26, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Until recently, arguably, the two most magnificent of the world’s remaining unrenovated theaters were the Uptown in Chicago and the Loew’s Kings in Brooklyn. That title now belongs to the Uptown alone! The Loew’s Kings $95MM restoration and expansion has been completed! Here is a great link to some incredible photographs of the fully restored masterpiece by Rapp & Rapp. FREE Tours to the public will be offered on Saturday, February 7th from 12:00 – 4:00 PM! I can’t wait to see it for myself! The first event, a sold out performance by Diana Ross, is on February 3rd!!!!! I hope this gives fans of the Uptown in Chicago some hope! http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/01/26/behold_brooklyns_magnificently_restored_kings_theatre.php#more

moviefanaticfan on January 11, 2015 at 9:32 am

Here is a video link


whtesoxfan56 on November 19, 2014 at 12:29 pm

So are all the Transformers(2014? I’ve lost count of the # of Transformers movies Bay has done, since I don’t care about them for the most part, since calling it quits to this series after Transformers 2) Uptown Theater scenes, only at the beginning of the film, and there aren’t any later in the plot? Interesting to know, since I’d still like to catch this movie on cable at some point, and just watch the Uptown Theater scenes outta minor curiosity.