Showing 701 - 725 of 736 comments found
The Skokie Theatre has had a virtually non-stop schedule in recent months. Singers, musicians & even plays such as Hizzoner.
Within the last year, The Village of Skokie has been working towards a plan to build a new CTA/Skokie Swift platform at Oakton Street & Skokie Blvd. Basically on the site where the was one originally. They were last trying to appropiate the land of an existing truck rental firm, to clear and create enough room for a Kiss & Ride stop as part of the new platform. In addition to helping the revitalization of downtown Skokie, this should help the Skokie Theatre as well.
Last year I believe they ran Charlie Chaplin films at the Skokie Theatre as part of the village’s Backlot Bash.
So some provisions must exist for it to again be able to show movies.
Wow, thanks Ron. That’s exactly the kind of conversion I was trying to describe. That’s great that it’s already been done within a vintage theatre elsewhere.
Maybe the new owners will hopefully read Cinema Treasures, and contact those involved who budgeted for and made the Paramount in Seattle happen.
I wonder what The Paramount’s parking scenario is.
Also, to Jayne1955, I reread some of the past posts. I seem to remember now that Sally’s Stage near Devon & Western was the restaurant the Nortown Theatre’s organ was taken to. It was directly across the street. And it’s showbiz theme would have been a natural. I think the organ was on the North wall of Sally’s Stage. I was there in the late `70’s. And they had banjo players and all kinds of stuff going on.
Kind of like Ed Debevics or Dick’s Last Resort. Thankfully without the attitude though.
Greetings. I too would love to see the Uptown restored to it’s original state first. As a theatre for films, stage plays & concerts you could sit at.
I was just speculating on how it would/could be profitable or even able to break even, with just nightly shows again. Other than big name entertainers, what could they do to keep it an active place and paying for itself on a daily basis.
I was trying to throw out generic examples of how to adapt the space so it could be used as often as possible.
Barring running matinee & evening performances of virtually everything, it might take a long time to reach the break even point. Especially if $35 million is spent before ever opening the doors. And that presumably being partially borrowed with it’s own interest, etc.
Some accounting firm will figure that one out. They’d probably start with something like: If it sold out every existing seat with 4300 people paying $100 a ticket, there’s $430,000 on a given night. Somebody please check my math, I failed everything past the 8th grade.
Now say they removed just the first floor seats(grrrr), and squeezed in more bodies for a concert, lets round it out to earning $500,000 per sold out show.
Including or excluding expensive VIP box seats or freebies or whatever, let’s just use the $500K as a super-generous nightly pull-in.
If they pay Sting, Cher or whoever $200,000 of that, or whatever the going rock star rate is, they’re left with $300K, which has to pay everyone else, the utilities, unions, and whatever’s left of that $35 million dollar renovation bill.
Since it’s not realistic that they could consistently have Sting’s or Cher’s on a nightly basis, or not always have sell outs with others, the intake would probably be erratic from show to show. And likely half or less than all of the above. So the down time would be critical.
Plus the United Center would be saying “Hey Cher, we can get you 35,000 more ticket buyers and parking for them.” So all the internal marketing would be new ground for promoters to convince or overpay name entertainers, to play the Uptown instead.
Though some veteran entertainers I would like to think would be willing to play for free or limited pay. Just to get the whole thing off the ground on the right note and for sentimental reasons.
Since regular nightly shows is more of ironically a Broadway thing, stage shows & musicals would be the next likely entertainment to consider on a part time basis. Shows that can maybe profit better after limited or lengthy runs. That’s assuming the seats are left in or removable at will. Pulling “Broadway In Chicago” into the mix might be an advantage.
Who knows? The accountants sure will have there hands full, and hopefully be able to pull it all off with flying colors.
P.S. There used to be a cool restaurant across from the Nortown called Sally’s Stage. It had an a very animated waitstaff on skates or something with a stage show during dinner. Big fun.
Theme conventions is a great example of mixed-use. Hypothetically, take something like the Rocky Horror convention, Comic-Con, Sci-Fi or whatever else. Those organizers would likely gladly pay dearly, to host their conventions in such a classic setting. But it wouldn’t have to be limited to the lobby.
Maybe when they restore the auditorium portion, depending on how drastic the pitch of the floor/seats is down to the stage, they could incorporate some type of removable floor sections just inside the auditorium from the lobby.
This would allow larger conventions
that require table space, to span out of the lobby and into the granduer of the auditorium. Then replace the floor sections & rear seats as the entertainment dictates from show to show. I always wondered why the Park West never ventured into this on a smaller scale. With their perfectly flat floor in front of the stage.
Or maybe the vacant furniture store to the North of the Uptown, could be outfitted as convention space. With the main entertainment of any given convention taking place in the theatre.
Then make a super sized Shake, Rattle & Read the anchor tenant, expanding all of his media to the soon to be added diverse foot traffic.
I hope all of the Uptown’s community embraces whatever plans & renovations are proposed. Fully understanding that it could mean upwards of an additional 5000 people to the neighborhood on a more regular basis.
This would be a huge boon to the area economy, and anything is worth the sacrifice to end decades of the Uptown’s non use. After all, it is obviously the area’s largest namesake landmark. And should be a proud achievement once it’s completed.
Thanks to you all. My querys on the Alameda/Biltmore, Palacio/Sheridan & Sunset Drive In were all answered in record time. And thanks to BWChicago, I now fully understand the advanced search fields. It was clearly me, and not my archaic WebTV.
As long as I’m here, I’ll post my little tidbits of the Uptown. It was here I’m sure I saw ELO for the first time. Had to be 1973 or `74 because they’d opened for someone else. Possibly Zappa, and not yet themselves headliners. Though I’d think I would remember the latter.
The Uptown was an inspirational place, especially for the progressive rock folks. It gave “Roll Over Beethoven” a surreal quality in such opulant surroundings.
There was a multi-story, possibly city run, customer pay parking structure, just East of the “L” tracks behind the Firestone dealer. It entered & exited onto Broadway using long concrete ramps. This would have been a great asset now with JAM’s involvement, if it had not been torn down years ago. Maybe it could be rebuilt if still vacant. The parking of the various show’s semis, is an excellent point.
And really should be the first thing JAM looks at as far as what they can do on the same nights at both the Riv & Uptown. Never take a community for granted. And trucks belching smoke out 24/7, and the rolling of Anvil cases will get old quick. Even the Riv has used both sides of Lawrence in the past. The side street behind the Uptown would likely need to be reconfigured somehow. Part of the backstage converted to loading dock or something, a previous post suggested.
Maybe the vacant furniture store portion to the North, could be hollowed out as stage access. I worked at Fanning Cadillac at Foster & Broadway. The trucks that delivered our new cars came right down Broadway.
The price JAM & their partners reportedly paid seems like a both a bargain and a blessing.
Since JAM is an established Chicago entertainment company willing to take it on, maybe great things are ahead. The Riviera’s existing interior cosmetics are of slight concern, if that’s some kind of base line. But maybe there’s a bigger plan down the road.
Of course none of these places started out weathered, they just ended up that way. We were warned of the evils of Rock & Roll.
Surely any future work done at the Uptown would be gone over with a magnifying glass. I’m not implying that anyone would cut a corner. Just that it probably wouldn’t be possible.
And in theory, when it starts out looking nice again, like the Chicago Theatre, it will stay that way.
From a business point of view, owning such a massive piece of land 4-5 blocks from the lake and near transportation, is never a wrong move.
Saving as much of the original Uptown both as asthetically & as is fiscally possible, given asbestos and everything else they’ll encounter will be a monumental task.
The biggest culprits will likely be the roof, and years of limited or no heat during those many winters. It’s a given all plumbing & electrical will need replacing, even if you were to restore to it’s original use.
They’ll be heros no matter waht they try, after 27 years of dormancy.
Any conversion though that could possibly end up paying for itself over time, would likely have to include creating a multi-use venue with year round usability. Sadly that would likely mean somehow dividing the auditorium and it’s once touted “acre of seats”.
The massive span of the interior space can’t be financially profitable to do only nightly shows for one audience anymore. It why places like the Uptown closed in the first place.
It would likely take round the clock, United Center level performers like Elton John every day, to merely break even.
And that’s after all the renovation costs. More would have to be going on in a mixed use building on a daily basis just to pay the utilities in any economy.
Since JAM has been doing it so long, and knows the numbers their neighboring venues can pull in, they were probably the only realistic hope the Uptown had left. Barring a Trump like guy who just wants to see it happen. No group can stave off the city forever. And JAM at least has a working relationship with them.
And since it would be closer to no longer being an eyesore, or complained about to the city, they’d be receptive and workable on anything positive happening as we are.
One can only hope it can all be done realistically, tastefully and incorporate the rich Uptown area history. Green Mill, Uptown Bank building, etc.
Maybe they’ll be open to or solicit suggestions once there’s an outline of what’s realistic or not.
It took me a while to track this one down. I saw Clint in “The Enforcer” here when it came out. Or whatever the one with Tyne Daly was. Being an action film, the crowd went out in a haze of gravel when departing.
I had a `56 Plymouth Savoy. It was a minor attraction at the show given it’s age.
But they never checked my trunk.
Thanks BWChicago for pointing me in the right direction. I never noticed the “previous names” search field.
The Sheridan’s incarnation as The Palacio is what I remember. Across from The Palacio on the N/E corner of Irving & Sheridan was a giant club called Berlitz or something. It had a huge vertical sign and was open well into the 70's or early80’s as a bar with bands.
I think it was originally a dance/social hall on a much less fancy level than the Aragon Ballroom.
Or Brawlroom, for those who ever made it to some of it’s `70’s concerts.
70's or early
I also didn’t know the Festival was formerly the Mode. We went there in 1978 or`79, when a friend of mine had a thing for a redheaded, X-rated actress. Lisa De-something. Again, I had the car. Was I to argue??
The Festival was really pretty beat by this time, so much so that even the actress looked a little uncomfortable being there. And you’d think nothing would phase her in her profession.
I think the Festival was briefly converted into an small grocery store before it was finally torn down. (your comment here)
This would have been years before the Admiral got a significant makeover, uh, so I heard.
The diner across from Biasettis/Cordiss Bros., was just called “Diner”, when another friend of mine worked there 18 years ago. It was reportedly originally an Evanston train car. It was owned by the DeMars family who had restaurants scattered about the city. Including Arnold’s at Irving & Broadway.
The diner was home of the Slinger. Whose ingredients included eggs, burgers, chili, hash browns, etc. As the sign said. “Don’t ask, just eat it”.
A hit with the after 2am crowd.
Greetings. I’m posting this inquiry on the Uptown page, because it seems to have a large numer of posters familiar with various theatres on the North Side of Chicago.
Does anyone remember any of the following three theatres, and their original names or exact addresses?
I’ve searched Cinema Treasures but have been unable to locate the pages because I’m unsure of the names. The locations I am sure of though.
This place was located on Sheridan Road just North of Irving Park Road, on the West side of Sheridan. Where Cuyler or something dead ends into Sheridan.
North of the Holiday Club.
It was long closed and torn down in the late 70’s, or early `80’s. It was much bigger than the old X-Rated Festival Theatre that was South of Irving on Sheridan as well.
The Palacio had a huge auditorium whose rear was visible from the “L” trains after it made the Northbound turn from the Sheridan stop. I may be wrong about the name.
This theatre was on Division a half block West of Damen on the North side of Division. It had a gigantic marquee that spanned the entire facade and overhung all the way to the curb. It was torn down in the early `90’s. The marquee had to have temporary poles to hold it up before it was razed. There is an open courtyard mini-mall with condos above I believe in it’s place now.
This place was on McCormick Blvd. between Howard & Devon near Touhy. Either North or South of Klein Tools.
It may be where Lincolnwood Towne Mall is now, where Bell & Howell used to be or something.
It may have also used a Chicago address. It was still open in the late `70’s, as I drove to & saw “The Enforcer” there. Clint got everyone amped up. Lot’s of gravel flying when everyone left.
These three theatres may already be listed on Cinema Treasures, I just don’t know the correct way to search them. Thanks!
After my Chicago high school had closed, I finished off my sophomore through senior years at ETHS. I used a family friends Evanston address, and commuted from the Near North Side. Until ETHS caught all who were commuting at Howard Street one morning, and sent notices that required all move into Evanston or pay an absurdly high tuition rate. They were right. My mom & I moved out there for the final 2 years.
After graduation, I moved in with some buddys a block from the Varsity, above the Italian Kitchen. Where I had previously worked, and others still did.
The Varsity was a classic, clean palace of a place. A real shame that it couldn’t have remained as original, and as a mixed use theatre. Live stage & film would have been great.
Would have also been nice if NU had thrown the City of Evanston a bone, and taken the place over for just that purpose. Given their hefty tax breaks and all.
But they had their own auditoriums.
I remember seeing “Grease”, “Sgt Peppers”, “The Wanderers”, “The Shining”, “Americathon”, and went back for some of the Marx Bros. double bills when it went to that format.
I think I also saw the pre-curser to “Grumpy Old Men” there. Something about a band of senior citizen bank robbers with the same crew. Walter Matthau, etc.
The illuminated ceiling stars were just like those at the Aragon Ballroom on Lawrence Ave.in Chicago. Except the Aragon also had a cloud machine.
The Aragon was never a theatre, so theres no page on Cinema Treasures.
But it has a rich history, and would be worth the internet search if one is interested.
The Valencia was a block and a half further South on Sherman. I think that was already closed and demolished by 1979. Evanston artist Ron Crawford did some great drawings of landmarks around town. The Valencia in ruins was one of them.
I thought I read the Varsity was going to take a crack at doing live music at on point. But given the future hell that the Coronet went through when it tried the same, I guess it was a post closure omen.
Thanks BWChicago for the encouraging words. I thought it might be helpful to add that one entrance to Pipers Alley which housed the Aardvark, is where the Starbucks is today at North & Wells. To the South of Second City.
The building in between was a restaurant called That Steak Joynt. Classier inside than it sounded.
I think it was owned by a guy named Joe Segal, who possibly also owned the original Jazz Showcase on Grand.
I think this is now a cafe featuring a Mexican cuisine. Orato or something?
Pipers Alley was kind of a cluster of buildings and gangways that with the indoor shops and Aardvark, had more than one entrance & exit. There were some storefronts and an old German shot & a beer type bar on the North Ave. side, that considered themselves part of Pipers Alley too. After it was all torn down, the first anchor, corner tenant in the new building was an Arby’s. That is where the Starbucks is today.
In late 1974 I started high school at St. Michaels up the street at North & Hudson. Now condos.
But it closed in my sophomore year. The public alternative was Cooley High on Division & Sedgwick by an Oscar Meyer plant. But it’s days were numbered too. I think they had finished the film there about the same time, and that was the end of it.
I read on Cinema Treasures that the interior theatre fight scene in Cooley High was filmed at The Adelphi in Rogers Park.
Next to Lum’s(Boston Market) in what is now a parking lot, was an old building identical to the one that is still standing just South of the lot.
In the `70’s it was briefly a House of Horrors with frightening creatures painted fluorescent colors bathed in blacklight, in all the different arched windows. It was last some type of Opera themed restaurant when it burned maybe 15-20 years ago. Across from that on the East side was the famous head shop Bizarre Bizzare.
A giant U shaped bonanza of pipes, papers, candles, posters, purses, etc. I’m pretty sure it’s the Honda store locale now. Or maybe breifly Harley or an ad agency. Guess BB did more damage by just walking in that I had thought.
The building previously mentioned in the Aardvark posts that housed the wax museum further South on the East side of Wells, is still there & has been long vacant. It has a wooden front and the faint, visile outline of it’s own old marquee. There was a giant log or utility pole laying inside the window last I looked.
It was called the Royal London Wax Museum when it was open. A friend of mine disputes the location, but it seem geographically correct to me. In relation to Gaslight Court. A once mini version of Pipers Alley, now appearing private.
Across from that was the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.
The Bijou Theatre & the Up Down Tobacco Shop are easily Wells Streets oldest businesses. With The Fireplace Inn maybe coming in third. With basement tavern Hobos now gone in place of something called “S”. How trendy. The Up Down though was originally across the street from it’s current home, and in a basement.
The Bijou was in the news about 15 years ago or so, when a would be bomber apparently, accidentally detonated himself in his own car before reaching that which was his alleged, intended target.
The papers somehow connected the Bijou either by default, or in a move to connect the bombing to it’s 40 year racy subject matter or something.
We used to play in the construction site next door to the Cinema Theatre. One of many, and every mom’s nightmare. The manager came out of the Cinema once because we were chipping concrete off of the theatre’s east elevation. Horsing around in the standing doorframe & gangway of whatever was left after the neighboring building was torn down. I felt guilty I remember. As I was a budding film buff, yet had interrupted a movie experience for others.
I saw “Thieve’s Like Us” at The Cinema with my family. It was my first recollection of product placement in pictures. Coca Cola was often utilized in the film’s early 1920’s Americana theme. In looking at JRS40’s list, I might have seen “Day Of The Dolphin” there as a 2nd run. But we’d already seen it a couple times at the Carnegie. Coincidentally about 3 years ago, I was riding my bike on the lakefront near the chess pavilion, when I thought I’d spotted DOTD actor Fritz Weaver just sitting alone on a park bench. I doubled back and asked “are you?”… and he nodded before I was even done. He shook my hand and said “good eye”. He was in town doing a play. Must have been staying at the Ambassador Hotel nearby.
It was at the Cinema too that I must have been forced to sit through “The Emigrants”, and not the Village Theatre as previously thought.
The Cinema Theatre was next door to the North elevation of the 777 N. Michigan building. One which has long housed the Walgreen’s that young actor Shia LeBeuf was arrested in a few years ago. Kitty corner from the Water Tower.
The Neiman Marcus store is actually on the South end of this block, at the corner of Superior & Michigan. So it’s behind the site of the Cinema, not on it. Unless it’s parking exits on to Chicago Ave. But I think that’s on Superior also.
Down Chicago Avenue to the West across Michigan Ave., was one of Chicago’s rare, lone Jack In The Box restaurants. A narrow bi-level structure that was built out with a Rube Goldberg like, circus interior.
An indoor maze that you had to walk partially through to even order your food. The giant clown head speaker was deep inside this maze.
It later became an Arbys, then was torn down in the `90’s & is now the Ralph Lauren Cafe. Which speaks for itself development wise. Behind that was the old Club Alabam, whose rooftop sign was still above the first Giordano’s on Rush. That has since moved across Rush when it’s quarters along with Golden Bear restaurant, “a honey of a place where food was fun”, came down for the Comp USA, now also gone. Whew!
I’m sure the 1981 closing of the Cinema Theatre was helped along with the inclusion of a multi screen in the then new Water Tower Place a block North. It think it opened in 1979. But it’s possible the theatre portion was a added a little later.
I finally made it to the Congress Theatre about 2 or 3 years ago. For the triumphant return of women’s roller derby to Chicago, where it all began.
The Windy City Rollers embarked on their maiden matches there, with 4 teams going at it in flat track action. I only remember one team’s name, Hell’s Belle’s. But it was the individual player’s names that were the hook. Val Capone, Anita Beer, Ellen Degenerate, Voodoo Dahl, etc.
In front of the Congress' stage, an illuminated oval track outline was adhered to the auditorium floor.
Using that sealed, clear string lighting that you hang along the bottom of your kitchen cabinets. No pitched, wooden track like those in the `70’s. Eat your heart out Starlight Express.
There was a video presentation, lively announcers and a power point style scoreboard. A band called “Death or Vegas” maybe, comic timed refs, penalty time-outs, and one girl left in an ambulance in less than an hour with a broken leg. So it’s needless to say that it was the real deal, and not just a “show”.
The special guests were an 80 year old member from one of the original roller derby teams, and one of it’s promoters.
Though you could see the action quite well from the main floor seats, it was the balcony that offered the best way from which to view this there.
I think the Windy City Rollers only had one more event there, before the Congress Theatre oddly removed the main floor seating. Basically preventing themselves from ever hosting that type of event again. Strange.
Especially for a place that didn’t seem like it could have had that much more going on on a regular basis. Not that roller derby would become that, but the audience certainly seemed to be there in force. And the neighborhood’s hidden Rockabilly demographic seemed a perfect fit.
The Congress' interior was at that time a little tired out. Signs of age & abuse, certainly from all the various incarnations it had had over the years. I seem to remember black paint in the bathrooms, and some limited plumbing options. Maybe it’s since had some cosmetics done.
But it’s kind of funny that it’s referred to as “One of Chicago’s Grandest Concert Venues”. Much like the self proclaimed “Faded Elegance” of the Riviera, both are a bit of a stretch. But at least the latter implys it knows it.
Just so there’s a point of reference here, the Chicago Theatre is an example of a “grand concert venue”. Seats would be kind of a given, to maintain that type of title.
I remember back in 1988, the Congress had a metal show called something like “JFK Assassination Night”. Complete with a vintage, suicide door Lincoln parked inside the theatre. There were pictures of this in the paper. I can’t imagine this was anything but noise and an eerie similarity to a Marilyn Manson video ten years later. This paragraph doesn’t really belong here, but my lowly WebTV had no way to move it.
By opting to remove the seats presumably permanently, the Congress has shown that the future will most likely be more about quantity than quality. That it will never revert back to a movie palace, and will live forever more as a place for concerts.
I’m both thrilled & surprised that it was able to get landmarked as recently as 2002. But wonder what required improvements or limitations if any, were bestowed upon it with that designation. Did the landmark commission ever tour the place?
Even though many a grander theatre locally has bowed to the wrecking ball, one must wonder how this one was able to be spared. And the others not so lucky. Maybe it was it’s overall relation to the entire building that saved it.
Anyone looking to protect the next one, should maybe study how this one got done.
This place we had no business being in. We were borderline teenagers, and you had to cut through all the head shops & such to get to the entrance.
I think the only film we ever saw here was “The Twelve Chairs” with Ron Moody.
I particularly remember a glass blowing shop that made vases & stuff right inside the windows. Pipers Alley was basically set off of the street, and wound around in a kind of bricklined indoor setting. Across the street was The Earl Of Old Town, a bar that Belushi & Akroyd supposedly bought into, so they’d have a place to party. Maybe after last call at Jeff’s Laff Inn down the street, across from Martingales. There was also a Lum’s diner across from Pipers Alley. Now a Boston Market. Down from the Old Town Ale House. Which is still there, and exactly the same Minus the smoke.
We worked part time a few blocks away at a small stage theatre called the Old Town Players. Just North of North Ave, on North Park St. It itself had been built inside of an old church. If the building is still there, it’s likely condos & worth millions. There was an old horse then cab barn across from that.
Wells St. in the 60's &70’s was legendary. I’m glad we weren’t old enough to partake in all it had to offer.
This place was awesome. I flew out there in Sept of 2005, for a 25th Anniversary screening of Xanadu.
I had no idea it would be in such a classic theatre. Fitting to say the least. The old ticket booth is now just kind of a prop. To the left is a window that now operates as the point of sale.
Beyond the first set of glass doors behind the booth, is an open air courtyard. Complete with some small palms as I remember. The view of the neon spire & it’s glow was breathtaking, even for this dude. They’d set up a small wine stand in the courtyard prior to opening the main doors.
Inside was equally as classic. You almost couldn’t tell what was original or restored. This event was hosted by Ralph or something Hueck. Movie geek from TV’s “Beat The Geeks”.
They had a memoribilia display, costume contest, memories from one of the original film’s dancers, and live dancers re-enact a sequence in front of the film.
The Alex Theatre was an absolute perfect fit for this kind of show. I heard from a friend in LA that they now do similar sing-a-long type shows there.
I too have seen the Alex in the background of various TV shows. Surprisingly, the surrounding area was peppered with vacant store fronts back then. It had an eerie, film backlot kind of a feel to it. There would be like 3 empty stores, then a major chain steakhouse or something. It was like a college town during the off time.
My relatives talked of regularly going to The Montclare. They lived in River Grove at various times in the 30's &50’s.
The Montclare used to give away china plates & glassware in the `30’s. Somewhere I have a lobby flyer from that era, with the give-a-way of the week. I too saw the Hefner piece and thought it funny, that the famous bunny cuffs may have originated via his time at The Montclare. That alone should have saved the place. Whoever owned it at that time and let them in, should have pitched something to him.
What’s 1 Mil to Hef? Come on!
Of course the Grand Geneva in Wisconsin started as a Playboy Club. So they’d long ago liquidated any dead weight.
As with so many others, too bad this place is gone.
I was only at The Oak Theatre once in my life. July 28th, 1993. A rare Chicago performance of ELO Part II.
A line up of some former Electric Light Orchestra members, without their former leader/founder Jeff Lynne.
I was amazed at the obvious transformation of what we had driven by hundreds of times as a porno theatre, into a classy, small concert venue.
You could tell by some of the interior workmanship, that some thought & money had been spent on the renovation.
The interior walls had been sand blasted & tuckpointed. Not much appeared original to the building except the exterior. And an inner set of door frames that separated the lobby from the auditorium. Great sound system, and alcohol sales to boot.
I really thought the place had huge potential, as like the next Park West. I think Johnny Cash was even advertised as being one of the upcoming artists to soon play there. So it definately could have positioned itself as a premiere, smaller venue for established acts that would sell out regularly.
I was absolutely stunned as to how quickly it closed and was torn down, in such a seemingly short amount of time. And to put up a bank!? What happened?
The ever growing, recently gentrified neighborhood, surely could have supported a venue of it’s size. It even had a parking lot behind it. And a bonus White Castle behind that.(Now gone too. In place of yet another Walgreens, 2 blocks from a yet another CVS.)
A truly sad, quick end to what could have been.
Ah The Riv. This place could still be the ultimate, if it would just get some cosmetics done. Concert business has cleary kept it alive. I’ve seen so many shows there I can’t even remember which were films and which were concerts. Robert Palmer, Cheap Trick years back on New Years, etc. (Noticed they had seats from the Granada in the balcony.)
My last was The Pretenders last Christmas. Which unfortunately we were not told was a Toys-For-Tots show, so we arrived empty handed.
All we could do was say “Hi” to WXRT’s Terri Hemmert.
Back in the `80’s, there was a brazen armed robbery of whoever ran the then Riviera niteclub. The newspapers later reported that it was an inside job. When pictures they ran surfaced of the alleged thieves laying on a bed of money.
In the early `90’s, then Chicago Bull Cliff Levingston reportedly bought the Riviera. But he was unfortunately traded from the team days later. So I don’t think he ever took over.
As I get older, I kind of wish these places didn’t remove all the main level seats. It’s what make the House Of Blues only viable if you pop for the dinner packages. I know I’m in no way their main cash cow audience, but I think it’s why bands like Steely Dan & Ray Davies now play the Chicago Theatre. The Congress also removed all the main floor seats. Surely essentially costing themselves the recent roller derby revival. Which re-opened on their floor, and coincidentally in Chicago in the 1920’s. Yeah, yeah I went.
They had an original roller girl in her 80’s there. And initially seats.
A friend told me once Natalie Merchant apologized to the audience at one of the two, for the conditions of the house. Which ever one she doesn’t play at again we’ll know.
The Riviera I’m pretty sure did a short late `70’s stint as a revival house, similar to the Parkway & Music Box. Mixed double features of cult classics.
Had the nearby Uptown not succumbed to all that befell it since 1981, The Riviera might itself now be dormant. But it’s a trooper. “Faded Elegance” can certainly be reversed with money and vision though.
Hello Cinema Treasurers. The Vic Theatre also had a run as a night club from the mid to late 1980’s. It’s current function as a concert venue was after that, closer to 1990.
In 1985 or a little earlier, The Vic was transformed into a place called “Clubland”. A giant red & white candy cane was their logo on the marquee. This makeover was also the original source of the interior neon lighting, that remains today over the main level bars. However back then the neon was originally faced with white lucite. To create that kind of milky colored, vintage juke box glow.
The lucite was then removed exposing the neon when in 1988 or so, it briefly took on the name “The Catwalk at Clubland”. I think Clubland was nearing it’s twilight. So it either was trying to spark interest by changing up the theme, or was leasing out their own space to other promoters. Similar to The Metro in the early `80’s calling their bar in the basement “Reds”, on a selected off night.
There was an attractive, local print model named Shanty or something, that was somehow involved in The Catwalk at Clubland opening.
The actual overhead/stage catwalks were pivotal during the Clubland days. Employees, servers etc. would perform dance routines on them at various times to the DJ’d music. Behind them on the walls were giant monitors that showcased bar like festivities. With comments edited in occasionally, years before Pop-Up Video. “She snores”, “he sleeps with lights on”, etc. All comedic stuff to make the regulars and partygoers feel as one. At pre-determined times, the staff would do those specific catwalk dance routines. Like those back in the day at Walter Payton’s America’s Bar on Erie. Waitstaff danced on interior walls to “Greased Lightning”, etc.
As Clubland, I seem to remember they occasionally added live bands. Though it consistently stayed open as just a giant bar. The Catwalk name didn’t last long, and it was back to The Vic, and as the concert venue it is now.
I remember once reading that a rare performance by Rickie Lee Jones was cancelled at The Vic. When she overheard some trains rustling by during rehearsal. Someone had briefly propped open an alley door to dump trash or something. It was explained to her, but she’d have none of it.
The Brew & View portion appears quite consistent and successful. I remember seeing some double features there over 15 years ago. Booze & View is what we called it. Next door overlooking and with it’s entrance on Belmont, was a place called Tuts then Avalon. I think it’s a tanning salon or something now.
In late 1986, I rented the studio space above the Devon Theatre. It was a former ballet studio, and the horizontal ballet poles were still mounted on the walls. Which I used as closet poles. We painted the ceiling black & added some clouds after a buddy
spraying the walls got creative.
I was working in East Edgewater, and my grand plan was to create a unique loft space with limited funds. The rent was cheap. However the Devon Theatre below was already closed. The theatre portion had no heat or utilities. Hence when winter finally hit, no matter how much heat my ceiling level gas heater pumped out, the hardwood floors remained cold as ice. The pipes ultimately froze, spliting one of the sinks.
The portion of the Devon’s roof which had collapsed was behind me & above the auditorium. The ballet studio was directly over the lobby, the two long vertical windows on either side of the marquee.
6225 N. Broadway is the correct address.
There was also an occult store & mini diner next door. An apartment building was adjacent, as visible in the picture at the top of this Cinema Treasures page. Across the alley was a bar called Freddy Fuddpuckers, that then became Frankie’s. Owned by the son of an Alderman from another ward.
I believe Chicago band Nicholas Tremulas rented my space for rehearsal, after I was forced to abandon my grandiose plans. Plans that were likely fueled by too many nights across the street, at a bar ironically called Impulse.
Neighbors in the apartments next door, would bang on the walls when we made noise during our various improvements.
They probably sorely missed me once a band moved in.
Years later there was a small oil painting of the Devon’s facade, oddly hanging in Howard’s tavern beer garden down on Ontario St. I regret not purchasing it.
As a theatre, the Devon was still active as late as 80 &81. I saw “Cat People” and “Thief” there. The auditorium of the theatre had a giant round reveal in the ceiling, with it’s own recessed lighting.
It too was all painted black. Surely to help mask the water damage that still found it’s way through from the white plaster beneath. Again like the 3 Penny, buckets on some of the seats.
Beyond what was thought to be humanly possible, the Peoples Gas guy and I found evidence of people living in the basement when we went down there to activate my service. Scar-y.
The space really had potential, but the Devon Theatre’s dormant status made it unworkable except during the Summer months. When they tore it down, I got one last look at the black ceilings from the street.
The police once approached the owners about using the upstairs as a surveilance spot for one of the taverns across the street. Did I really need them up there myself, with all my intended renovations? Not really. Besides, I patronized those very bars.
I moved before it came to fruition.
I only saw a few films at the 3 Penny Cinema. Even back then it was in varied states of disrepair. Buckets on some of the seats, no concessions, etc. I seem to remember they too had a cat at one time.
I want to say “Zandy’s Bride”, “The Immigrants”, “Freebie & The Bean” and some Marx Bros. double features were among those I’d seen there.
I’d forgotten “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory” from my Biograph post. I’m pretty sure it was there and not the 3 Penny. Gene Wilder, the original Willy Wonka was the draw at the time.
I’m surprised it took as long as it did to finally close it’s doors. Whether forced to or not.
The Music Box is the grand dame of continuing art houses. When the Parkway Theatre closed, the Music Box was pretty much one of the last places that ran different double features every day. With a colorful flyers in each week’s Reader newspaper.
Foreign films, `60’s cult comedies, chick flicks, holiday fare, you name it. A very classy, vintage place that is exceptionally run to this day.
They started doing some “Grease” sing-a-longs about 2 years ago. Possibly “Wizard Of Oz” as well.
Maybe 3 years ago, they tried out a midnight run of “Xanadu”, with what they claimed as good results. It played on the smaller screen to the right and front of the theatre. The one that was converted from retail space.
I’m an old ELO fan, and had a bunch of oddball “Xanadu” memoribilia.
On a whim I approached the Music Box about possibly having a table in the lobby, for “Xanadu” fans to peruse said stuff as they came and went. The Music Box staff didn’t even hesitate to say what time, and what size table did I need? I did it both nights.
The lobby was stunning in it’s original decor, and lit up beautifully. There is an interior ticket & concession counter to the right as you enter the theatre.
Plaster ornamentation that needs to be seen to be appreciated fully.
What I somehow failed to notice was the main midnight feature was the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”.
The original granddaddy of a cult following. One that I saw only when it originally came out. An onstage re-enactment was also apparently planned.
I was set up with an 8 foot table in front of a radiator with a power source behind. Good interest in my little display, mostly by parents whose children were fascinated by “Xanadu”.
Some on skates.
Also unbeknownst to me, was apparently the “Rocky Horror” convention was in town. Then…up pulled the buses. And out came the RHPS revelers in a non stop, full on costumed stream.
Suddenly out of nowhere, Music Box staff & added concert like security with military precision, herded the group into two lines-male & female. All the while shouting instructions on expected behavior. “You may not throw toast”, etc.
The oddity of my presence, coupled with this added element in this beautiful old theatre setting, could have been the basis for it’s own independent flick.
To have a dude in full drag make up, pause with his girlfriend looking at an ONJ picture disc deadpan, and just say “oh yeah, Xanadu” then calmly walk away was surreal.
I felt like Brian Wilson must have when Phil Spector first said, “yeah, I’ve heard your stuff”.
The Music Box has stood the test of time, and given Southport’s kind of big money revival, condos/retail, it will hopefully be around forever.
I seem to remember reading of tough times in the `80’s, but all seems well now.
McClurg Court was very spacious as a one screen. The exterior had an office building like facade.
Even when they altered the signage for the 3 screens, it was fairly non descript. Though they had employed some of the backlit, movie poster style signage.
Mr. T at one time had a unit in the adjacent residential portion. His red Rolls convertable with “BA” plates could sometimes be seen parked around McClurg & Ohio Streets. Just prior to or possibly while he was living in Lake Forest. He had previously worked at a club called Dingbats which I think was in or near McClurg Court.
Most memorable was seeing “Network” at McClurg. The opening trailers for a upcoming pic called “Star Wars”, garnered it’s own cheering & applause. Before “Network” got it too. Something that rarely happens in movie theatres anymore.
Down the street there was an art deco Kraft office building facing the lake.
The city used it for offices in the `80’s, then sadly it was torn down. Would have made awesome retro, lakefront condos in it’s own right, had someone with vision & dough gotten to it first. A block away was a former Holiday Inn, with it’s famous rotating restaurant on the roof.
I also saw “Demon Night” with Chicago’s own Billy Zane, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”, “Titanic” and lastly “Gladiator” at Mclurg.
The last two having long lines.
McClurg was still a clean, well run place near the end. Just couldn’t compete I guess.
I remember seeing the “The Sting” at The Loop Theatre the day of my grade school graduation in June of `74. Still in my red velvet bow tie. Yikes. Also saw the Ben Hecht film “The Front Page” there, though it’s not listed above.
What some may not remember is on the corner above the neighboring Walgreen’s, was the longtime Winston billboard that had a giant face that blew out smoke rings. I think it also had a giant clock, and was reduced to just the clock when cigarette ads took a beating.
Years later when the Loop Theatre was reduced to being an electronics store of sorts, they had hanging speakers that were obviously blown. Blasting music out of their doorway towards the street. Like that was somehow the hook to get folks inside. You almost had to hug the curb to avoid it.
Which reminds me of another Loop area legend. A place called the Treasure Chest. An arcade type place filled with old time pinball & bowling machines with wooden balls. Glass counters everywhere filled with everything from playing cards to glass pipes. Even switchblades on request. Why? I think it was South of Randolph though. Closer to Madison.
I just remembered a funny, botched promotion that took place at Lincoln Village Theatres years back.
For the opening of the Tom Cruise film “Cocktail”, they’d brought in bartenders and alcohol for various drink mixing contests.
Done in a freestyle fashion to mirror the behind the bar hi-jinx, of the film’s over animated mixologists. Tossing bottles and drink shakers, etc.
Apparently though no one thought to ever card individuals invited to take part in the promotion.
The police somehow got wind, and the festivites were shut down.
This blunder made the newscasts, so somewhere there must be a record of it.
I have many memories of the State-Lake. Including seeing the original Casino Royale, Poseidon Adventure & The Warriors. But most memorable was when I went with my family to see “With Six You Get Eggroll”. Once we were inside the door, my mother was handed a box of frozen eggrolls by an usher. Every sixth group of patrons apparently got the same, as part of the film/theatre’s promotion.
I thought I had seen “Where Eagles Dare” & “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” there, but don’t see them on the list. So they must have been somewhere else. Or they were undocumented limited runs.
The latter actually had an intermission, when CCBB drives off of a cliff. Pleated curtain closing and all. We don’t learn CCBB can fly until after the intermission. Truly thrilling for an 8 year old.
I also remember the general unease at the theatre, when we went to see “The Warriors”. It had already been pulled in Boston and elsewhere, after gang related shooting deaths at other theatres. We were all 19. So we kinda got the once over at the door.
I too think ABC could have done more to save the State-Lake heritage. Or at least expounded on it’s history.
Or somehow incorporating the old marquee into things. But it’s possible the marquee had come down long before the rest of the major renovations.
P.S. I wish the Esquire developer would take they’re lead from the Selwyn/Michael Todd/Goodman. Save the front, build what you want/need inside. Since the interior was all destroyed when converted to multi screen anyway.