Uptown Theatre

4816 N. Broadway,
Chicago, IL 60640

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ThePhoenix on May 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Here are some links to the Joliet Rialto another Rapp & Rapp design for those interested and motivitational incentive for the Uptown restoration to see what the Rialto did…

> Rialto Restored …

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> The Visionaries …

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> Rubens Rialto Wonder Theatre …

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> Palace For The People …

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> Rialto’s Past & Future …

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9:35 PM CDT

LuisV on February 10, 2011 at 6:16 am

I continue to have hope for our abandoned palaces and most of all for The Uptown which, in my opnion is one of the two most spectacular unrenovated movie palaces in the country:

The other? The Loew’s Kings which has finally commenced its $70MM restoration with a projected completion date of 2014. This will add yet another theater to New York’s collection of, arguably, the largest and best collection of restored palaces in the world. Among them, Radio City, The Hollywood, The New Amsterdam, The Beacon, The St. George, Loew’s Paradise, Loew’s Valencia, The Elmwood, Loews 175th Street, The Apollo, among others. I woud also include the two palaces in Jersey City (Loews Jersey and The RKO Stanley to the list) Still to come? The Staten Island Paramount, Loew’s Canal, The Brooklyn Paramount, RKO Keiths Richmond Hill, Loew’s Shore, The Jackson and many others.

New York has criminally lost some of the most beautiful theaters ever built. Among them the Roxy, The original Ziegfeld, The Center, The Capitol, The Rivoli, Proctors East 59th Street, Loew’s 72nd Street, The Triboro, The Paramount, the Loews State, The Academy of Music, and on and on. However, due to the sheer volume of palaces built, New York has been able to retain an embarassment of riches.

Chicago needs to use the Kings as its inspiration and save this remarkable and irreplaceable structure. Unfortunately, Chicago’s finances are in terrible shape, but New York has correctly noted that you cannot stop investing in the future when times get tough. New York did that in the 70’s and 80’s and almost died. Despite the current economic troubles, our city continues to invest hundreds of millions in new parks, museums, theaters, bike lanes, plazas etc that contribute to the quality of life that make (tax paying residents) stay here and move here.

Below is the story from the NY Post:


Plans to turn Brooklyn’s biggest movie theater — the once-majestic Loews Kings in Flatbush — into “the next Apollo” should become reality by 2014, officials say. Borough President Marty Markowitz is expected to announce during his State of the Borough address tonight that architects and contractors have finally begun site-preparation work on the city’s $70 million plan to restore the 82-year-old historic jewel to its former glory. The theater, which seats 3,195, closed its doors in 1978.
Construction is set to begin next year.

Markowitz â€" who has led a community effort to restore the theater â€" says in prepared remarks that when complete, the site will be “a state-of-the-art, 21st century performance venue” and “the pride of Flatbush and all of Brooklyn.”

Part of the Loews Kings' legacy is its A-list of former employees — among them Barbra Streisand and Sylvester Stallone, who worked as ushers. It’s also where Markowitz attended high-school graduation and took his first date. After decades of failed attempts to rejuvenate the site, the city last year tapped Houston-based ACE Theatrical Group to restore the historic theater to its original French-Renaissance-style, so that ACE could present up to 250 concerts, theatrical performances and community events annually.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Thank you for asking, lin79. It’s OK to post the photo. Is “our facebook page” a facebook page for the Uptown Theatre?

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 9, 2011 at 1:35 pm

This photograph of the Uptown Theatre was taken in 1930 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto and Mann.

DavidZornig on January 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Just ran across an old Chicago Tribune Magazine dated April 25, 1993, which has an article about the Uptown Theatre called “Sleeping Beauty”.(Pages 16-18)

Tribune Photographer Charles Osgood included 9 pictures and wrote the piece as well. It cites 1983 as the year it was boarded up.
Though `81 I believe was still the year of the actual closure.

The front page of the magazine has a line at the bottom that reads:
“A movie palace in search of a happy ending.”
After another 18 years on top of those first 12, how true.

Jayne1955 on December 23, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Can anyone tell me how to find out what was playing there during specific weeks in the 70’s? Thanks.

cbnight on November 11, 2010 at 8:28 am

Many great images here:
View link

bruceanthony on July 20, 2010 at 10:29 am

Scott the size of the Uptown is a plus. They built the 7000 seat Nokia in LA due to the demand for mid-size theatres. The Music industry today is fragmented just like television there are very few musical acts today they can fill arenas so most are playing mid size theatres seating anywhere from 1500-7000 seats. The 3300 seat Fox which was restored last year books mainly rock acts and the Fox is the perfect size. Most of the acts that play the Fox I have never heard of but have a following in todays youth culture. I see the Chicago Theatre booking more mainstream acts where the Uptown books acts that play the Fox. The economic downturn will slow things down for a couple of years so I think JAM will proceed slowly.brucec

CarolineNye on July 15, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I write an educational blog about Chicago architecture found at http://blueprintchicago.wordpress.com/ I am interested in writing about the Uptown Theater. Can anybody tell me if there would be a possibility of my getting inside the building to give me a better sense of it for my writing and take a few interior photos?

From reading much of the exchange on here my sense is that the thought of A – getting inside the Uptown, and B – being permitted to take photos is entirely unrealistic. But perhaps the current owners would be more open to the idea? Is the correct address for Jam still:

207 W Goethe St Fl 5
Chicago, IL , 60610-1809
Phone: 312-266-6262
FAX: 312-266-9568

Does anybody know who I should address my inquiry to? And is there an email address they check over there that anyone knows of that I could use?

Thank you for all of your help. I’m glad to see so many people so passionate about saving this glorious building.



raw on June 23, 2010 at 7:42 pm

I saw a re-release of Giant at The Uptown in either 1970 or ‘71. The theater was already in disrepair. The balcony was closed. I was an early teen at the time and really enjoyed seeing movies at the grand old theaters. The manager took me on a tour. He was disheartened that the theater was shabby.

bruceanthony on June 17, 2010 at 1:31 pm

The Kings in New York City is a huge theatre. If they had built a full balcony inside the huge audtitorium it could have easily sat over 4000 seats. The Kings is one of the most beautiful theatres I have ever seen even in its current state. The Kings has been closed longer than the Uptown. Im sure with the current economy things may have slowed down for the time being. The long run potential for the Uptown is huge because of its size. It wouldn’t be used for Broadway but for the modern music acts of today who can’t fill arena’s and stadiums.brucec

bruceanthony on June 17, 2010 at 1:31 pm

The Kings in New York City is a huge theatre. If they had built a full balcony inside the huge audtitorium it could have easily sat over 4000 seats. The Kings is one of the most beautiful theatres I have ever seen even in its current state. The Kings has been closed longer than the Uptown. Im sure with the current economy things may have slowed down for the time being. The long run potential for the Uptown is huge because of its size. It wouldn’t be used for Broadway but for the modern music acts of today who can’t fill arena’s and stadiums.brucec

LuisV on April 23, 2010 at 8:49 am

While it is absolutrly true that NY has destoyed a huge amount of its Movie Palaces, it is also true that it remains the home of the greatest collection of remaining palaces in the country. The losses are huge because NY had a mind numbing amount to begin with (arguably the world’s greatest), but look at what remains: The New Amsterdam, Radio City, The Ziegfeld, The Hollywood, The Beacon, The Paris, The Apollo, Loews 175th St, Loews Paradise, Loews Valencia, Loews Kings (now being restored), Loews Canal, The St George, Brooklyn Paramount, The Ridgewood, The Elmwood, The Jackson, RKO Keiths Richmond Hill and RKO Keiths Flushing, not to mention that many of today’s legit Bway theaters also showed films for significant parts of their past. I’m sure I have forgotten some and I have also omitted several theaters in Brooklyn which have been converted to churches but are still restored and very much with us today. Honorable mention goes to Loews Jersey and The Stanley just acreoss the Hudson in Jersey City which practically counts as NY. So yes, much has been lost, but when many cities have but one of two palaces remaining, NY can still hold its head high for what has been saved; the latest being the Loew’s Kings.

Chicago is justly proud of it’s architectural history and legacy and it truly is a shame that this theater (The Uptown) has not been restored, but what has happened at The Kings gives me hope that Chicago will be able to finally do the right thing. Few people ever though the Kings would be saved, especially in these economic times, but miracles do happen.

Panzer65 on April 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Thank you jwballer for your kind words…I hate the Yankees also (Mets fan)..but we do share a common cause,and we will succeed.Actually my visits to Ridgewood as a multi plex were quite pleasant, much of its interior was saved, especially the lobby, and it was just a cozy place..sort of like home..but Uptown must survive as a single screen venue, or performing arts center..its design is a class act!!

Panzer65 on April 22, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I’m form New York ,where our treasured landmark buildings are destroyed mindlessly. Just recently the historic Yankee Stadium was demolished without a trace of a memorial to remember it by, let alone countless movie palaces. My best wishes to save your beautiful Uptown Theater.

DavidZornig on April 20, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Just came across a Reader from Nov. 20, 1981.
It list’s “FRANK ZAPPA BAND. Next Friday, Nov. 27, 8 and 11:30 pm, Uptown Theatre 561-4110.”

So it made it through to at least the end of `81.

Can anyone imagine 2 Zappa sets in one night? Or asking any artist of his stature today to do 2 shows?

DavidZornig on March 28, 2010 at 8:52 pm

I stand corrected, and I signed the petition. Thanks for setting me straight.
Ironically I have always been an advocate for preservation and restoration of the Uptown. As evidenced in all of my previous posts to Cinema Treasures.
I also did freelance work for the city for 10 years. So I’ve experienced a bit of bureaucracy first hand.

Some may also want to search a Tribune series from a few years back. About the city and the preservation of various buildings within Chicago. At the time, all of the ones that had been lost needlessly were listed by address. My previous point was made with that particular series in mind.

I guess I was concerned that any project requiring the city’s help for preservation, would likely receive low priority if any, given current economic conditions and the city’s budget woes.

I believe in JAM, and that they will step up to the plate as things evolve. I believe I read that they were the only buyer to show up at the sale.

uptownadviser on March 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm

To correct David Zornig’s comment above, the City has invested heavily in the stabilization of the Uptown. All of the major work that you can see from the street in the past five years has been done on the City’s dime under the direction of a court-appointed receiver and a licensed structural engineer. Each related City department and official has been incredibly supportive over the years.

Please recall that the building remains privately owned. The impetus to renovate and reuse the Uptown must come from the private owner and what he or she sees the Uptown’s role being in the entertainment market. It will not be saved simply by the city, state or federal government throwing money at it. The Uptown will only come back with a sensible renovation and reuse plan that is funded largely by private enterprise. There will be civic backed support and incentives, no doubt. But the solution will have to come from within.

More recent stabilization and monitoring work continues under the direction of U.T.A. II, LLC, which is related to Jam Productions. They are the most interested owners in some time. They are both responsive and supportive and have retained an architect to investigate options and directions.

To support our efforts and to stay in touch about the Uptown Theatre, Chicago, please go to the Friends of the Uptown web site, www.uptowntheatre.com and do three simple things:

  1. Sign the online petition.
  2. Sign up for our email newsletter on Yahoo Groups, Uptown Adviser.
  3. Friend us on Facebook.

Links for all three things are on our homepage. Thanks for your continuing interest, support and detailed observation.

DavidZornig on March 11, 2010 at 8:13 am

I am quite certain that JAM’s intentions for the Uptown are and always have been all good. What “evidence suggests otherwise”?

Who in their right mind would spend 3 million or whatever it was, just to prevent competition from spending another 30-40 million, renovating a building with such huge problems that’s been empty for 30 years?
JAM could have NOT bought it and still gotten that result.

My understanding is that JAM owns the Riviera, and only manages the Aragon.
And the simple competition in the music biz, is to book who is most popular for the least amount of money, in the biggest place you have available.
And yes, that would be the Uptown. But there are so many insanely expensive variables to undertake before that could even remotely have been a threat.

Hypothetically, if the Uptown WAS bought and fully renovated/opened by JAM’s competition, it would still come down to who could book the bigger name acts consistently. 3-40 million is a pretty big gamble upfront to prevent competition.

JAM openly claimed it had wanted to buy and renovate the Uptown for years. But the roadblocks and various players invloved were always insurmountable. (Some of which is stated in links in posts above, from around the time they finally purchased it.)

I agree the City of Chicago seems shamefully indifferent to what happens to the Uptown. Or most landmark worthy buildings for that matter. Unless they can get their piece of the action. The City is claiming it’s treading water itself. So incentives are going to be flying out of City Hall any time soon.

paulsp on March 10, 2010 at 9:45 am

It’s a scandal to say the least that the restoration of the Uptown seems always to be in doubt. As good as Loew’s Kings might be (and it’s great that it looks like being restored) it is not in my opinion in quite the same league as the Uptown, one of the top 4 or 5 movie palaces ever built!! The City of Chicago does not seem to understand what a special place this is.

LuisV on March 10, 2010 at 6:32 am

I have much more faith in NY City’s government than Chicago’s. The city has been working for years to find the right buyer and has backed it with lots of tax breaks and grants, I don’t think that Chicago has done the same, so I am very confident that the Kings will come to fruition.

LuisV on February 15, 2010 at 6:44 am

The Loew’s Kings Theatre in Brooklyn has finally been saved! This 3,000+ seat palace has been sitting abandoned for over 30 years, just like the Uptown. It is one of the country’s most ornate, but unrenovated theaters, just like the Uptown, and it is located in a non central city location, again like the Uptown. The renovation will cost about $70MM largely paid for with with city grants and tax breaks. The project will take four years, employ 500 people during restoration and 50 permanent after opening. It is expected to host over 200 events a year, though it is not clear movies will be among them. A new marquee (styled after the original) will be installed in addition to a brand new blade, as it originally had! This is incredible news for all theater lovers across the country and hopeful news for fans of The Uptown. IT CAN BE DONE!

123james on October 29, 2009 at 6:54 pm

thanks for posting the pictures—-to me it still looks great——even after all the neglict and abuse——thru the years

chspringer on October 29, 2009 at 6:41 pm

I’d love to see more interior shots in color. Most I’ve found are B&W. The one above is nice.