Paradise Theater

231 N. Pulaski Road,
Chicago, IL 60624

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Showing 326 - 343 of 343 comments

teecee on June 1, 2005 at 4:20 pm

good history at this link, along with some extra links at the bottom:
View link

jkusler on March 27, 2005 at 4:48 am

Okay, to get this right for everyone… you are all sort of correct. The rock group Styx recorded a concept album “Paradise Theater” based on the rise and fall of the real Paradise Theater in Chicago. The inside of the album cover even had a reprint of the newspaper article telling of the theater’s demolition. The songs were fictional accounts of life in and around the Paradise Theater over the span of the theater’s existence. The film “State Street Sadie” was a real film that played at the Paradise Theater. Follow this link and you will see it displayed on the marquee in the third photo down the page, on the first line of the marqee, starring Myrna Loy.
The song “State Street Sadie” was composed by Styx as the closing tune on the album – a sad instrumental played on a solitary out of tune piano. Presumably, the composer, Dennis DeYoung of Styx, saw the photo that the link listed above displays. So everyone was correct, together! ;–)
As for the theater itself, I did a little research on the Paradise a few years back, based on my curiousity and love of theater palaces, and I happen to be a Styx fan as well. I was completely aghast when I first saw the photos of both the exterior and interior of this jewel! While many times venues have claimed to be beuatiful and the finest or most luxurious – this was actually true of the Paradise. I am frustrated at the thought that I will never get a chance to see this incredible structure. So sad it is gone – and that was almost 40 years ago now.

beardbear31 on March 26, 2005 at 12:16 am

The drawing of the Paradise Theater for the Styx album cover was NOT taken from a picture of the Granada….. it was taken from a picture of the actual Paradise Theater..the picture even had the name of the movie, “State Street Sadie” on the marquee, which was a song on the album…also the taxi on the album cover is there…. this picture can be found at:….and the woman with the outstreached arms, on top of the marquee on the album cover, is actually part of the interior decor, which can also be found further on this website..

Divinity on November 10, 2004 at 4:08 pm

I meant to say photographs of the auditorium of the Loews Paradise in the Bronx.

Divinity on October 20, 2004 at 7:26 pm

Sorry that there are no photos depicting the magnificent stage with its adornment and the atmospheric elements.

Divinity on October 20, 2004 at 7:19 pm

John Eberson, a master of his craft also designed the oppulent Loews Paradise Theater in the bronx NY which is also considered one of the greatest movie palaces in America. It was also atmospheric and its almost 4,000 seat auditorium sat in a beautiful italian garden with the constellations set in the sky as they were on the birthday of Marcus Loew. On opening night there were canaries singing from their cages in the halls and lounges. The theater cost 4,000,000 1929 dollars and did phenominally even before the Central Park West subway line brought people in from the west side of Manhattan. The theater had been divided in four by the 70’s. By the 1990’s, there werent enough bronx residents attending with the multiplexes opening in the bronx and the rest of NYC as well as neighboring Westchester County. The movie palace closed 1994 and is currently being restored so that it can be an entertainment venue for Bronx opera companies, symphony orchestras and entertainers. Images of the interior can be seen here:
Information on the venue can be found at:

beardbear31 on October 16, 2004 at 7:09 pm

The letters on the lower marquee do indeed look like they have been removed from the old one! I wouldn’t doubt that, being the financial condition of the theatre at the time, that perhaps they cut a few corners when erecting the new marquees. And by the look of it, it doesn’t look like they put a lot of extra money into it. :–)

beardbear31 on October 11, 2004 at 9:53 pm

You can see some great interior and exterior shots of the Paradise here:

JimRankin on October 2, 2004 at 6:36 am

Hello, Scott,

In regards to why the acoustics of the Bronx PARADISE and the Houston MAJESTIC were not supposedly as bad as those in the Chicago PARADISE, I cannot be sure, since I have never had the privilege of hearing shows in them, nor have I seen the drawings for them. I suspect that the height and curve of the ceiling is different in both of those huge auditoriums as compared to the Chicago venue, and sometimes only a small difference in dimensions and curves can be a big difference in acoustics. I’m sure you will agree that just because they were by the same architect does not, of course, mean that they had to have the same dimensions, etc. You are probably right that the differing decors and their dimensions were partially responsible for the differing acoustics also. And you are most certainly right about the original aims of the PARADISE; sound movies were still on the horizon when it was designed, and likely they didn’t entirely appreciate the adverse acoustics, or that such would ever really be a problem. As I mentioned, with music, only muddled sound may result, and audiences came mostly to see the silent movie, not judge the sound quality of the music. Sad to think that somehow if only sound films had not come to be, the great PARADISE might still be with us, but then maybe not. The great MARBRO is no longer with us either, good acoustics or not.

JimRankin on September 28, 2004 at 1:43 pm

Jon Erickson’s description of the wonderful PARADISE does accurately relay why the theatre failed, but there have been questions about the nature of the acoustics that should be addressed.
The ornamentation and auditorium decorative draperies so usually seen in movie palaces were not just for show; it was essential to absorb and deflect the sound waves coming from the stage and organ/orchestra so that only one sound wave struck the listener. When sound hits an essentially smooth surface —such as the ceiling of an ‘atmospheric’ (stars and clouds) theatre— it is focused by that surface upon a single broad point in the audience, effectively amplifying the sound to those there, but dimming it for those elsewhere. Not only will others outside of that point not hear as much volume, but worse is the echo that develops as the main sound front hits the listener, followed by the delayed sound front reflected off the ceiling a split second later. Many smaller atmospherics had smaller effective reflective ceilings where the flanking false building fronts were closer to the surface and these absorbed or deflected much of the sound. In the over 3,000 seats in the PARADISE, the vault of the ceiling was just too vast to have any ornament or draperies near enough to counteract the reflection(s); remember the laws of physics: the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection/refraction. Thus when the sound front hit the ceiling, it crashed onto the audience mid-floor, AFTER they had heard the other sound fronts from the stage and elsewhere. During music this may just cause muddled sound, but speech can be rendered unintelligible. How could the great architect Eberson miss this fact during planning? I don’t know, since acoustics was not an unknown science even then. It may be that the owner put too much pressure on him for a triumphal spectacular, which he achieved, as opposed to a good concert hall. After all, ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune.’

JimRankin on September 17, 2004 at 1:51 pm

For those who do view the “mural” above the proscenium referenced by Bryan, note that the clouds shown in the photo are retouched onto it, and were not actually painted on the ceiling, but the horses were real, 3-dimensional full sized statues! ‘Clouds’ were projected as was usual in such theatres.

Trolleyguy on March 29, 2004 at 11:16 am

Some of the statuary and fountains from the Paradise went to the Chateau Royale, a banquet hall built out of the Iris Theater at 5747 W. Chicago Ave. I remember attending weddings and functions there and admiring the beautiful fixtures. The building still exists today, except as a church.

JimRankin on March 25, 2004 at 8:34 am

It must have been amazing to sit several rows away from the stage and look up and see three full size horses rearing over the audience below! The ANNUAL mentioned in the first post shows those life size plaster beauties being built in a shop and in another view, in position at the top of the proscenium, with a hand painted mural of a heard of stallions stampedeing behind them. With the drapery of the House Curtain below being painted with the Greater Birds of Paradise in full array, the thematic style may have only ben to suggest anything that architect/artist John Eberson thought of as appropriate to ‘paradise’. ‘Just some of the glories of this long-lost extravaganza. Such a pity.

johnlauter on December 30, 2003 at 5:38 pm

The style of this theatre really should say Atmospheric/French renaissance. The term “atmospheric” is important, as it classifies the auditorium as having a “open sky” effect, the French element being secondary, but no less important. Architect John Eberson (who designed the Paradise) is the inventor and best proponent of this style>

GaryParks on November 19, 2003 at 3:04 pm

A quick artistic comment. The illustrator who did the cover of Styx’s Paradise Theatre album used the facade of Chicago’s then-still-standing Granada Theatre as his model, though with not as much rich terra cotta ornamentation as was really there. The marquee on the album is imaginary, though quite in keeping with the era.

Though I loved old theatres from the time I first went to movies, it was the fact that that, when a teenager, the then-new Paradise Theatre album cover reminded me of an abandoned theatre I knew of when younger (the Tracy, in Long Beach, CA), that really spurred my interest in old theatres. Thanks, Styx!

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on September 8, 2002 at 3:41 pm

To see the famous portrait of The Paradise Theatre LP cover, go to


Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on August 22, 2002 at 3:07 am

The famous painting of the Gala opening of the Paradise Theatre has been reproduced on Styx’s 1980 album “Paradise Theatre”, on A&M/Geffen/Interscope Records.

This album also had a painting, on the back cover of the Paradise Theatre after it was closed. For more information, go to

JimRankin on June 4, 2002 at 11:02 am

The story of the fabulous, but long-lost Chicago PARADISE THEATRE is correctly told in the ANNUAL of 1977 of the Theatre Historical Society of America, titled: “The PARADISE THEATRE, Crawford near Washington, Chicago, Illinois” by Joseph DuciBella, past president of the Society. The 38-page, 8-1/2x11 long format booklet features dozens of black and white photos plus drawings of the theatre, one of John Eberson’s very best. It opened the same month as the equally famous PARADISE in the Bronx, NY, but that house still stands. The Annual can be purchased for $12.50 plus shipping from the Society under the sidebar: PUBLICATIONS: ANNUALS > Ordering Information, at: There was even an ad in “Signs of the Times” magazine of November 1928, page 59 that shows the front facade in a photo describing its 4,692 light bulbs on one of the vary largest marquees in the world, the 10,772 total light bulbs on the marquee being animated by ‘Hotchkiss Silent Flasher’ made jus north of Chicago in Milwaukee by the Cramblet Engineering Corp. The used a strip of mercury switches riding on a series of cams turned by a motor to spell out the PARADIS*E letters and to sequence the rise of the sunrise design of colored lights to light from bottom to top in order. Such sequencing is now done electronically, but in those days, the mercury switch was new in this application. Such devices plus contactors and transformers were what was contained in those large boxes often seen built on the top of the marquee out of sight of the ground.