Granada Theater

6427 N. Sheridan Road,
Chicago, IL 60626

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dougiede
dougiede on March 22, 2007 at 5:24 pm

Paul —

A small thing: the Chicago subway system began service AFTER WW II, about 1947. Its opening was a huge affair. Also, I think one goes “across town” from east to west, not north to south. And the Schubert Theatre was a legitimate house, although it did show films in the summer when there were no stage shows.

Doug

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on March 22, 2007 at 1:54 pm

Geo,

Chicago’s mass transit system is huge, much like New York’s, but on a scale appropriate for its size. Although we do have subways here, which were mainly built during the Great Depression, the soft clay here makes subways extremely expensive to build. Hence, we have a lot of our system elevated, at street level, or in highway medians. Much of the area’s “L” system is currently under renovation, so transit times are high here.

Suburbanites do come downtown. We have an excellent commuter rail system called Metra, which does run on weekends. The suburbs in Indiana are served by a different commuter rail system, the South Shore Line, which is not a part of Metra, but does run downtown also.

Unfortunately, ALL of Chicago’s rail system, “L” and commuter rail is downtown-oriented. There is still no convenient way to go across town from North to South, not even by driving. We were supposed to have had a Crosstown Expressway years ago, complete with an “L” line in the middle, but the NIMBYs (Not in My Back Yard) didn’t want it. The Uptown is and the Granada was on the North Side, both accessible via the “L”—the Red Line—but not practical for suburbanites and Northwest Siders to get there.

The downtown theatres (Chicago, Oriental, Cadillac Palace, Goodman, LaSalle Bank—formerly the Schubert—, and the Auditorium) all do well in part because of good parking, good public transportation, and the general renaissance of the downtown area. All but the Auditorium are former movie theatres.

jukingeo
jukingeo on March 21, 2007 at 3:05 am

Hello Paul,

I am familiar with the trouble Chicago has on the West side and that also led to the demise of the Granada. I also know the Marbro and Paradise where also in this area.

However, I really didn’t know where either the Uptown or Chicago theatres are situated.

I don’t know how Chicago’s mass transit system compares to NY. But in NYC there is ALOT going on underground. Installing a parking garage that goes underground and taps into a subway system (if present) could bring alot of people to the Uptown. Furthermore, not only would this benefit the Uptown, but the whole area in general.

I just think that some solution should present itself or people should just work things out better or else another magnificent structure will be lost.

I am surprised that the area DID have a parking structure and it was taken down and not another one built to replace it. Now that is something that doesn’t make sense to me.

Geo

Geo

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on March 20, 2007 at 3:28 pm

Geo,

Catherine is right, parking would be a big issue for the Uptown. It was an issue too for this place. At least that’s what the “official story” was regarding the Granada. I made a comment regarding this on my May 26, 2006 post, but I’ll repeat it here:

“In the late 1970s or early 1980s, a company called "M and M Amusements” took over this place. M and M attempted to clean the theatre up and began booking top-name entertainment at the time. Such bookings included a stage version of Rocky Horror and concerts such as Cheap Trick and Off Broadway USA (“…Stay in time boy/Don’t get out of line boy). M and M ran into trouble with the community because of the lack of parking. The community supposedly claimed that concert-goers were vandalizing the area, damaging automobiles, etc. As a result, M and M lost its liqour license and was unable to book concerts after that. It was a shame too, because it seemed that M and M really tried to make the Granada Theatre work.

Then again, there were all sorts of politics behind the liqour license suspension…."

As for the Chicago Theatre’s parking situation, since it is Downtown (The Loop), there are plenty of parking lots which will be happy to charge customers upwards of $20.00 to park. But since The Loop has seen a comeback, and it’s transit friendly, many people elect to take public transportation. All CTA L lines are close. Many suburbanites take public transportation to The Loop too. The Metra Electric and the South Shore terminate 2 blocks east of the Chicago and the other Metra lines are but a quick cab ride away.

Life’s Too Shore: I remember that parking deck at Broadway & Lawrence. When I worked for Andy Frain Ushering, which had a contract for the Uptown, I’d use that deck.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 20, 2007 at 7:30 am

The funny thing is that there used to be a seven or eight story parking garage at Broadway & Lawrence, which filled right up on show nights. For some reason they tore it down and never built another one.

jukingeo
jukingeo on March 20, 2007 at 7:28 am

Hello Catherine,

Yes, I am familiar with the parking issues in that area and it is a shame that the city doesn’t put more parking garages in. (Put them underground perhaps!) The Uptown definately needs something like that. But it is a very serious point. I, myself, am looking to buy a small theatre in a downtown area in PA, Vermont, or Virginia. However, most of these downtown areas were thriving in the times of the horse and buggy later there usually were trolleys, busses and trains. Most people used those methods of transportation or just walked. But today with everyone driving, there has to be a place to put the cars.

When I find a theatre I like, I usually end up also finding out there there isn’t a place to put the cars! Towns get very fickle about having cars floating around the streets clogging everything up, even later at night! So I know what you mean there.

Now, being from Chicago…I am assuming you been to the Chicago Theatre. How do they handle the parking issue?

I am sorry to hear that the interior has deteriorated. As I said, the only pictures I have are from 1990 and now it is 2007.

It would be a shame to loose this building. If Chicago lost this theatre, it would be harking back to when NY lost the Roxy…Very much a similar theatre in size and beauty.

I love that name. If I were to build a theatre from the ground up I would call it the Roxy.

But for me, nothing will top the Chicago Paradise. There was just something about that building that just blows me away every time I look at pictures of it. I am a sucker for atmospheric theatres anyway…especially John Eberson’s creations

But the Bronx Loews Paradise is very close to the Chicago Paradise. It is also an atmospheric designed by John Eberson.

Yes, you normally would be right, the Bronx is quite a questionable area, but they do have very good security in place when there is an event. Futhermore, that area they are cleaning up nicely. After all, tons and tons of money went into the restoration of that building and they are doing their best to make the area better so more people will want to come and see the theatre. They offer tours of the building as well. It is a pretty big building too. I think it is just shy of 4000 seats.

Here, get a load of this. This is a picture of the auditorium in mid restoration:

View link

Nice huh?

Geo

CatherineDiMartino
CatherineDiMartino on March 20, 2007 at 6:40 am

Geo,

I’m a Chicago girl! Born and Bred! I’ve been to New York a few times & actually went to the Beekman (spelling?). I would love to see the Paradise next time I’m there. What’s the area like around there? Unfortunately, the Bronx has a “less-than-stellar” reputation, perhaps undeservedly so.

I’m not all that optimistic about the Uptown Theatre. The condition of the inside is bad. The stage doors are on Lawrence Avenue (which is a fire lane—they would not be able to park the large trucks necessary for today’s shows). Customer parking would be a huge issue there. My friend and fellow Cinema Treasure fan Paul Fortini says that he moved to that area and then moved right out immediately when his lease was up. The problem, as he puts it, was parking. Especially when the Aragon and/or the Riviera were having shows. Imagine adding 1500 or more cars to the mix if the Uptown were to have a show! And there is so much competition amongst the operating venues today!

But if all of these issues can be addressed, then perhaps the Uptown will one day be a successful venue. BTW, when I was about 17 or 18 years old, I saw the J. Geils Band there when “Centerfold” and “Freeze Frame” were big hits for them. I believe that they were the last band to play at the Uptown!

jukingeo
jukingeo on March 20, 2007 at 6:25 am

Hello Catherine,

I personally never have been to Chicago, but I will say that from pictures, Chicago was the one city that could even rival NY when it came to the Golden Era picture palaces. It is also a shame that most of it’s beautiful theatres have been destroyed. The Granada had a sister as well, called the Marbro. I think I posted pictures up top somewhere. Then there was the famous Paradise Theatre. This one building alone got me interested in the old picture palaces.

The beautiful Chicago Theatre is one of Chicago’s best theatres that has been restored and is in full operation. But Chicago still has one more gem…a building physically larger and arguably more beautiful than New York’s very own Radio City. That is the Uptown Theatre. You can check that out here. Supposedly there are plans in the works to restore this gem, but it is rough going. But I am hoping it can be saved. It is a massive building and would make an excellent concert hall. The Granada and Uptown are surprisingly similar in design.

I do not know where you are from, but if you are close to the NY area, they just recently restored the Loews Paradise theatre in the Bronx a couple years ago. THIS theatre is to die for. Only one could imagine what the Uptown would look like fully restored.

Geo

CatherineDiMartino
CatherineDiMartino on March 20, 2007 at 5:26 am

In the photo set of http://www.mekong.net/random/theatres.htm if you look closely at Set 1, Photo #9 of the Granada, you will see a poster of Paul McCartney. This was for his 1989 “Flowers in the Dirt” tour and album. I had the pleasure of seeing him during that tour at the Rosemont Horizon (now called the Allstate Arena).

Oh, but if the Granada could have been saved and he could have played there….!

WorldwideBob
WorldwideBob on March 2, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Don’t know why I didn’t find this site before. I grew up between the Granada and Uptown Theatres by St. Ita’s. I also remember the Riviera, the Aragon, the Howard, the Nortown, the Gateway, as well as all of the downtown theatres. I’ve used up my computer time reading all of the other comments and will come back soon to post some other stories but I want to make two comments right now. First I’m wondering how many people were aware, since I didn’t see any comments about it so far, that there was a rehearsal stage on the top level that had more room than most cineabox movie screens around today. This space was not open to the public, but it was a great space. Anyone else have some memories of this ? Secondly, I was wondering if anybody else took what I thought was my ‘coolest’ photo during the demolition. I spent many nights wandering through the Granada after it was closed. I never took anything because I was waiting for it to reopen and even stopped some from vandalizing the place. Then in one fell swoop right before demo began they stripped it out almost overnight. When that was being done was the only time there was ever security there. Back to the photo, I kept going in there as it was being torn down, sort of like visiting an old friend in hospice. They first wall they ripped down was the north wall behind the stage. One night I was there with my Polaroid (God do I wish they had digital cameras back then) and sitting in the balcony with some beers we got from Bruno’s we watched the show. With just the back wall ripped out but with the proscenium left untouched you could watch the ‘L’ go by like it was a stage show. I had just one picture left from my 10 pack of film (which I had put in to take some photos at a party I was at earlier). I waited for the right moment and took my picture. It was two ‘L’ trains crossing in opposite directions as seen through the magnificent proscenium as if it was a stage show. If anyone else has a photo like that please let me know. More next time I stop by this page. WorldwideBob

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 30, 2007 at 4:29 am

That is a sweet photo gallery Cam. Really first rate.

CHICTH74
CHICTH74 on January 30, 2007 at 3:48 am

Dear Cam, Thank You for posting the address for the sight that you did, not only did it show pics of the Granada but it showed pics of other theatres that i could not recall what thay looked like.
Wonderfull, thank you once more.

jukingeo
jukingeo on January 30, 2007 at 2:31 am

Hello Cam,

A very nice link. I have seen pictures of the demolition before, not those color pictures of the lobby. I am surprised as well as the overall condition of the building just prior to demolition. It also makes me sick at the same time at how such a beautiful building was destroyed because of shortsightedness. Granted…if the Granada was still around today, it would be in a not so good area of town. Still if the city had a good plan for the area that would include the theatre, expand on it’s parking then it could have been better for the area all around. But now America has lost a real treasure.

Fortunately a similar theatre, The Uptown, is still standing and now with sights on preservation hopefully this theater will avoid the same fate as the Granada and be around for many future generations to enjoy.

Geo

Cam
Cam on January 29, 2007 at 7:20 pm

There are some pictures of the Granada in Sets 1 and 2, at http://www.mekong.net/random/theatres.htm Take a look in particular at the 1987 pic of the lobby; just two years before demolition began, the theatre was still in excellent condition.

I’m reaching back into my memory here, so I could be wrong, but for what it’s worth, I believe the last public function held at the Granada was a concert with Peter Tosh and Heavy Manners in about 1983.

jukingeo
jukingeo on November 20, 2006 at 12:24 pm

Hello BRIAN,

Cool! Nice street video. I certainly would love to see a video of the OLD marquee.

Broan
Broan on November 20, 2006 at 9:39 am

A 1954 video clip of the Granada can be seen by searching for 26434 at http://www.wttwdigitalarchives.com/searchres.php

jukingeo
jukingeo on July 27, 2006 at 1:33 pm

ANSWER TO WHY THE STYX PARADISE THEATRE ALBUM IS ACTUALLY AN ARTIST’S RENDERING OF THE CHICAGO GRANADA THEATRE.

PLEASE READ THE POSTS BY MARY L, BEARDBEAR31, AND MYSELF, GEO1 STARTING FROM JULY 21, 2006 IN THE CHICAGO PARADISE THEATRE THREAD… ENJOY!!!

CHICTH74
CHICTH74 on July 24, 2006 at 11:36 am

Just finshed looking at the LOC pictures of the Granada.
I can not find the words to express the way that i am feeling right now.

So i will have to quote Mr. Richard Nickel……….

“ Great Architecture has only two natural enemies:

Water and Stupid Men "

Thank You for your time. :)

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on June 27, 2006 at 4:16 am

The front wall of the lobby stood for what seemed like a month while they removed decorative elements to sell. The rest of the building was gone at that point. So how rotten could it have been? LOL.

Charles: am I to understand from the comments above that the senior center on the corner bought the Granada and redeveloped the land? I hadn’t realized that. Very interesting.

JimRankin
JimRankin on June 27, 2006 at 1:50 am

This is by no means the first time that a university refused to save an historic building. In Milwaukee, for example, there was on Marquette university land the smaller but lavish limestone Romanesque, Plankinton Mansion of 1890, which was landmarked, but the Jesuits (again) said that they needed the land for university “development” and it remains a field of grass since demolition circa 1985. When the city stalled in issuing a demolition permit while they explored re-use under landmark status, “Father” so-and-so phoned one of his dear parishoners who owned a large excavator-on-treads early one sunday morning to come and push down the stone and copper porch of the building, which he did, so as to render its landmark status moot. There was a bit of a public outcry, but the church just sat back and smugly replied “fait acoumpli.” The Catholic church gets what it wants in Milw. and Chicago —if not also everywhere else. They care only about their own history, not that of anyone else.

Of course the gorgeous GRANADA was not “rotten.” That is just a lie that they also said in Milw. about the Mansion. Look at the link to Loyla above and the description: it is now just there 23rd building and is advertised as the school equivalent of a luxury hotel. Historic preservation was furthest from their minds — MONEY from this huge hotel was the closest — and the public wishes be damned! After all, any property owner has the right to do what they want with their land; is that not so? Just ask the many who have demolished theatres over the years and they will tell you so. Soooo, don’t expect that they are likely to save any part of a theatre if ‘god’ says it must go!

jukingeo
jukingeo on June 27, 2006 at 1:32 am

Hello LIFE’S TOO SHORT

Oh, I understand what you are saying and ecomonically you would be 100% correct. There is just not a market for huge theatres any more due to changing times and “progress”. I know what you mean, I am right now going through a feasibility study myself for a theatre I would like to buy, but I am hope that its size is an asset and not a hinderance. But in a town with no live theatres and only a few in the surrounding areas, I believe it will work out. The numbers unfortunately do dictate everything. True Chicago does have many of it’s classic theatres, one favorite restored theatres is the Chicago. I was not familiar with the stage problems of the Granada or Uptown, but both were used as concert venues before. The Uptown would have continued to do so, but fell on lack of maintenance and repairs. So I would think that something could still be feasibly done with the Uptown since it is in the city. But as you pointed out, in the very least if the building has to be used for another purpose, do retain as much as possible it’s past heritage. I do go through this alot…it is a personal war within that has the artistic and historic side of me fighting with the business side. But in the very least your ideas for the Granada would have at least saved part of the grand building. But too, to the purists, they may argue that issue as well. Unfortunately the Granada is gone and there is nothing anyone can do about it now. But perhaps there are some very creative people out there that could find good uses for most of the remaining classic theatres that are out there. One card that I am hoping to play is localization. With today’s high gas prices, local people may soon be returning to entertainment that is close by. Perhaps that will spawn on some restorations.

I am off,

JG

MKuecker
MKuecker on June 26, 2006 at 9:40 pm

Life’s too short:
Yes, “Granada Plaza” or “Fordham Hall” as the students from Loyola University call it.
http://www.luc.edu/reslife/llcs/ford/
What was supposed to be residential property turned into exactly what Senior Lifestyles promised it wouldn’t.
A residence hall where yuppie college students who’s wealthy parents are paying for them to reside.

Hrm, my cage is rattling… :P No, seriously, the Century type thing was suggested, or at least using the façade as the entry way, or the lobby for the lobby to the building. BUT the head of Senior Lifestyles answered each question the same: “Can’t it’s too rotton!”
All of these ideas were put up for consideration, but the Senior Lifestyles people were too inconsiderate.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on June 26, 2006 at 6:01 pm

How about that. Yes they are. I have always wondered why the grand window was painted over. I guess the setting sun might have been an issue. But it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

I don’t know Geo. I love old theatres. What’s more I think there is a place for many of them in the modern world. I don’t know about the Granada. It had an oddball stage because of the curving elevated embankment just behind. More importantly that same embankment would have kept any developers from adding a modern stage. It’s a similar problem to that facing the Uptown, which backs directly up to Lawrence Avenue.

Should the taxpayers of a given municipality be saddled with a building that can’t sustain itself just because a few of us love it? As off the wall as some of the people are who argue against the Dupage Theatre renovation, I think the point they make is a valid one. It’s not enough to say, “it would be a good concert hall.” You need estimated cash flows that support such a notion.

The only possible arts center solution I could have envisioned here involved Loyola. But, obviously, they had every opportunity to investigate the idea and did not.

I could see getting really out of joint if this had been Chicago’s last vintage theatre. But, at least for the time being, Chicago is lucky enough to have several well-maintained vintage theatres.

I’m not trying to rattle anyone’s cage. I simply feel strongly that preservation efforts need to have a realistic component to them, or they are doomed to fail. I would have been happy if the grand lobby had been turned into a restaurant, with a multiplex or maybe a Century-type mall retaining the auditorium ceiling. That way the building would have lived on.

Instead we have “Granada Plaza.”

Broan
Broan on June 26, 2006 at 5:20 pm

I actually just realized that the pictures on all those HAARGIS profiles, if you copy their location and ipen them on their own, are quite large. Same if you save them to disk. Whoops.

jukingeo
jukingeo on June 18, 2006 at 2:38 pm

Hello

LIFES TOO SHORT—Agreed, they could have done something…but even more than just save the facade. The aweful thing was that this theatre lasted until the 90’s when movements were already in place to save theatres. So I guess that is why this one really bothers me alot that it was torn down so late. I think also there is a bit of a personal attachment to this building especially since I found out it was the inspriation for the the album cover of Styx’s Paradise Theatre…of which to this day is one of my favorite albums and was one of the reasons I became interested in the theatre industry. If you looked at the old pictures of the Granada’s original marquee, you can even further understand my grief at why this theatre was destroyed (see the pictures I submitted from both the Granada and Marbro above). It is sad and very important to protect what we have left. Chicago has still another gorgeous theatre left…the Uptown, I believe there is still hope for this gem.

JG