Portage Theatre

4050 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60641

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Showing 76 - 100 of 204 comments

veyoung52 on May 18, 2008 at 8:34 am

Can anybody confirm if a group called the Retzler Development Group of Grand Island, Ne had any involvement in any of the reopenings or restorations of this theatre? Thanks.

mp775 on April 8, 2008 at 8:00 pm

Paul F – in response to your 11/9/06 comment, it’s not an all-Christopher Guest festival, but This is Spinal Tap will be at the Portage on May 5! (It’s actually a rock music film fest, with The Wall and The Song Remains the Same)

RobinW on February 22, 2008 at 3:49 pm

I am glad that the present owners of the Portage have been able to make a go of this place. There does seem to be a bit more work that needs to be done to the Portage. I hope that a vibrant theatre can bring back investment such as restaurants and stores to this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue.

I’ve been here for the silent movie festivals that have been here.

Broan on January 28, 2008 at 4:16 pm

It appears that the Portage reopened as a twin under M&R on or near March 5, 1981.

PaulMayer on January 28, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Wow, what memories this page has given me. I was born and raised in the Portage Park area and would walk to the Portage Theatre every Saturday when I was a kid. I’ll be 65 this year but way back then, my mother would give me 50 cents each week to get out of her hair. 25 cents to get in the theatre and 25 cents to buy candy at the candy store that was to the right of the theatre. Anyone remember that place?

They’d have double features that would have us on the edge of our seats. I remember the early years where we’d sit in the front row with our necks bent back to see the huge screen. As we got older, we’d sit in the cubby hole sections at the back of the theatre with our girlfriends in the dark. I recall that I really don’t remember much of the movies I saw during that period.

I went away in 1960 when I joined the Army and haven’t been back since. But the photos and seeing that the old Portage has been brought back to life has put a smile on my face.

Thanks, Paul Mayer

Broan on January 9, 2008 at 4:10 pm

The other side of Milwaukee will probably redevelop once the housing market gets better. A condo project was announced but it seems to have stalled.

ericg765 on January 9, 2008 at 3:26 pm

I have been to the reopened Portage several times since 2006, and I’m happy there’s still a theater in my father’s old neighborhood (he lived off Belle Plaine around the corner from the theater) that’s functional, and is becoming more successful the longer it’s open. There needs to be more work done by the Six Corners Association to see what can be done about the run-down buildings on the east side of Milwaukee Avenue, where the department stores and the old Deluxe Record Store used to be (where the costume shop is now).

Only criticism I have – can they PLEASE get rid of that hot orange paint in the concession area? :)

It’s heartbreaking to see the condition of the Patio down at Austin/Irving Park Road though. I remember back in the late 1980s after a recent rehab how good it looked.

CatherineDiMartino on November 30, 2007 at 7:30 am

The owners of the LaGrange could take a lesson from the Portage. The Portage, it seems to me, was in far worse shape during the period it was closed compared to the LaGrange (which remains open). Was public money used in the renovation of the Portage? And who owns this theatre? Someone told me that it was run as a non-profit but couldn’t verify this.

mp775 on August 30, 2007 at 3:39 pm

On Friday and Saturday, September 14-15, the Portage Theater will be hosting the Preserving Palaces film festival. The program begins Friday at 7:30 PM with Uptown: Portrait of a Palace and Preserve Me a Seat (chronicling efforts to save the Indian Hills in Omaha, Gayety/Publix in Boston, DuPage in Lombard, and Villa in Salt Lake City). The festival continues Saturday, September 15 at 7:00 PM with The Wizard of Austin Boulevard, Loew’s Paradise Theatre, and Memoirs of a Movie Palace. A theatre preservation discussion panel will follow the films on Saturday night. For complete information, visit www.portagetheater.org.

robabank1 on August 2, 2007 at 11:06 am

P.S. left off my e-mail

robabank1 on August 2, 2007 at 10:58 am

am writing an article on old movie houses in or near Jefferson Park, Chicago; if anyone has any photos available inside or out of the building, either as the Times or the Holiday Ballroom please contact me. Also looking for photos of the Jefferson Nickelodeon, Gateway, PORTAGE and Patio. Were there any others nearby that I didn’t mention? I will try the Library and Historical Society files too. Roughly looking between Cicero & Austin, Irving and Bryn Mawr Ave’s.

vampirefan on June 18, 2007 at 11:29 am

I just found this listing for The Portage and have read all the comments. Looks like things have come a long way! The theater looks fantastic and we love working with Dennis. The theater now has a movie screen that can can easily be raised to quickly make the stage fully available. (The old screen was static and took about 4 hours to put up or to dismantle.) They have some great film festivals!

I’m one of the organizers of the Can’t Stop the Serenity charity screenings here in Chicago and we were lucky to get the theater in 2006 when it had just opened. This year, we are having our charity screening there again! Can’t Stop the Serenity – Chicago Friday, June 22, 2007 @ 7:30 PM.

ctd on April 16, 2007 at 4:26 am

I’m happy to hear the Portage is still standing and in use. I saw many movies there, and my most vivid memory of the Portage was from the premiere of “Firefox” in ‘82. The crowd was restless, having been kept outside for a long while past showtime. After finally getting in and sitting down, there were several false starts and projector problems that were resolved just before the patrons became an irate mob.

GrandMogul on March 29, 2007 at 1:54 pm

Chicago Daily News, Tuesday, January 6, 1942, p. 11, c. 4:


Three new theaters have joined the Balaban & Katz chain. All are locatd on the Northwest Side and have been under the B. & K. banner since the first of the year. They are the Portage at 4050 Milwaukee avenue, the Admiral at 3940 Lawrence avenue, and the Drake at 3548 Montrose avenue. All three are now undergoing minor operational transitions and will offer the latest cinema advantages to neighborhood audiences.

GFeret on February 21, 2007 at 6:45 am

A few weekends ago PORTAGE ran, and I saw, a 2-part Italian made biopic “KAROL: THE POPE, THE MAN”. An excellent film, by the way (starring one Peter Adamczyk with the right smile, flair, sensitivity). And I can say unquestionably here’s a super-rare instance where a favorite big-city neighborhood theatre, formerly multiplexed, has been restored in every important way to its' original theatrical condition (though with modern sound of course). Done without well-publicized fanfare, too. I intend to support it. Maybe the LaSalle Bank 16mm screening room, now a ½ blk away, would consider an arrangement to use these digs. It could be done by smart people.

mp775 on February 10, 2007 at 1:37 pm

The Portage Theater is on MySpace! Stop by www.myspace.com/portagetheater and send a friend request…

GrandMogul on February 8, 2007 at 8:36 am

According to a news item in the Chicago Sun, Wednesday, January 7, 1942, B&K purchased the Portage, Admiral and Drake theatres.

And thanks G. Feret for the info on Miss Rivers—-adds to the theatre’s already interesting history …

GFeret on January 3, 2007 at 11:13 am

PORTAGE theatre trivia: JOAN RIVERS introduced her (directed) “RABBIT TEST' there in-person in 1978. Just thought you’d like to know.

mp775 on December 5, 2006 at 9:25 am

The Portage is having its first annual Christmas Spectacular on Friday, December 15, with Santa, the Revolutionary Swing Orchestra, a Christmas sing-along with the great Jay Warren at the organ, and a showing of White Christmas. See http://www.portagetheater.org/Dec15.pdf for details.

Broan on December 3, 2006 at 5:19 pm

Here are photos of this theater.

portageparkmom on December 2, 2006 at 8:45 am

Give Dennis a call at the theater and he will give you my info. Looking forward to speaking with you

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 2, 2006 at 8:42 am

I’ve never been too keen on putting my email address out there. I would also rather not set up a date and time through this message board. That being said, I’d be happy to talk with you if you let me know how you can be reached.

portageparkmom on November 30, 2006 at 5:56 pm

The Portage not only is thriving it Rocks. That event was brought to you by the same neighborhood people. We were thrilled with the response and are planning a second for next year.
PS. I really want to speak with you we have to set up a time to have a private chat – let me know when and where

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on November 30, 2006 at 5:40 pm

You know, as it happens I had to drive by the Portage while that Svengoolie thing was going on. Traffic was actually jammed up on Milwaukee Avenue in front of the Portage!

portageparkmom on November 30, 2006 at 5:38 pm

Life’s too short…there are alot of things we were all led to believe. Unfortunately some believed longer than others and some got it a little sooner than others. The great news is that as a result of our blood, sweat, tears and perseverance our beloved Portage Theater is now open and bringing Chicagoans wonderful events such as the one I posted above. It has not been subdivided into pieces or turned into condo’s and it is thriving. Dennis is doing an awesome job his staff is fabulous to work with and he is bringing a new face and new life to our community. We are thrilled to have him here.