Uptown Theater

4816 North Broadway,
Chicago, IL 60640

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Showing 151 - 175 of 440 comments

uptownjen on July 28, 2008 at 5:37 am

the area that the uptown is slowly improving right now. still, i think it has been said before in the past that, due to its size and location, it would take a whole lot of money to demolish. (the dupage, referred to in the last post, was 1/5 the seating size of the uptown and much less ornate. it was also located in a seperate block of its own, from all the pictures i’ve seen. the uptown is located in the middle of a block surrounded by mostly bars and hip restaurants, making it much more difficult and expensive to remove.) i hope that works in favor of saving it. i don’t think that the land is super “hot” (at least, not yet!)and the condo market is pretty cold here right now, with many new, empty condos awaiting occupancy in the area, so that also makes me think it won’t be demolished.

so far, i would say that the biggest threat to the place would be having a show promotion company of some sort buy it to eliminate possible competition and then leave it to sit and decay. (this has been mentioned in various articles in chicago papers, since both jam, a local promoter, and live nation, a national promoter, want to buy it.) i hate to say it, but i myself would much rather see it reused in some way than just to sit there, a few blocks from where i live, rotting and dying a slow death. it’s still lovely…it just needs some new life breathed into it.

hopefully, with the sale, the city will stipulate that whoever buys it has to put money into restoring it. that was done recently with the sale of the regal on the south side. still, i don’t know how possible it is, at this point, for the city to intervene, being that the sale is supposedly being handled by an outside foreclosure auctioneer.

TheaterBuff1 on July 27, 2008 at 10:34 pm

Do I see another DuPage tragedy in the making with this latest news flash? I sure hope not! The DuPage was another theater designed by the firm of Rapp & Rapp, in its case, located in Lombard, which is a suburb of Chicago. And in that case there was a heated rush to demolish it by a group of backwards-minded disidents even there was a sincere effort made on the part of a well-meaning group to try to restore it. But sadly, under the worse type of politics imaginable, it got demolished, while I wonder if we’ll see a repeat of that again here. I thought there was a good plan underway to restore the historic Uptown, so this news comes as a major shock to me!

Jayne1955 on July 26, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Well, Chicago let a lot of it’s classic theatres go, too. The Granada, the Nortown, the Norshore, the Paradise, the Roosevelt, the Century, the Marboro…I could name twenty that were all unique in their own ways. This one should be saved, not just because it’s truly unique, but also because there are very few left. We’ve got to start appreciated our past more.

I’ll never really get over losing the Granada and the Nortown. I felt a piece of my break with both of those.

philbertgray on July 25, 2008 at 3:14 pm

I hope this theatre can be saved. It is huge inside. What a loss if Chicago lets this one slip. They should look to the irreversible damage the city of San Francisco has allowed to happen to many of its classic theatres.

balabanandkatz on July 22, 2008 at 4:58 am

I forgot to mention, my email is
thanks! David Balaban

balabanandkatz on July 21, 2008 at 11:29 am

There is a rumor going around that the final ownership of the theatre will be decided by the end of September. I took a walking tour with my friend Rene Rabiela Jr.a few days ago.(his dad, Rene Rabiela operated the theatre during its time as a rock and roll palace). The inside of the theater is in pretty rough shape but it is overewelmingly beautiful. There is a slide show of that tour on our website. www.balabanandkatzmagazine.com Check it out. Email me with any questions..
David Balaban
Balaban and katz historical foundation
posted by balabanandkatz on Jul 21, 2008 at 10:26am

uptownadviser on July 21, 2008 at 10:48 am

The chief of security at the UPTOWN continues to ask that interior photos not be posted online at this time due to security concerns. The building is probably one of the most photographed theatres of all time, and many historic photos are available through Theatre Historical Socity of America at www.historictheatres.org Photos taken on rare, approved tours are supposed to be for personal enjoyment only. Unfortunately, people still try to break in the building’s dozens of doors. There have been petty thefts in recent years, including a not-historic bust from a niche. We don’t want to risk any damage or theft to the building. We also don’t want to make it even more challenging for security. We’ve respected this specific request, online, since 1998 at www.uptowntheatre.com

balabanandkatz on July 21, 2008 at 10:26 am

There is a rumor going around that the final ownership of the theatre will be decided by the end of September. I took a walking tour with my friend Rene Rabiela Jr.a few days ago.(his dad, Rene Rabiela operated the theatre during its time as a rock and roll palace). The inside of the theater is in pretty rough shape but it is overewelmingly beautiful. There is a slide show of that tour on our website. www.balabanandkatzmagaine.com Check it out. Email me with any questions..
David Balaban
Balaban and katz historical foundation

uptownjen on May 19, 2008 at 2:05 pm

this blog explains what is happening at this moment with the uptown. it’s not much new news, though.

View link

k1052 on May 13, 2008 at 7:19 am

Warshauer is the Chairman of the Retzler Development Group so old news basically. No new entity has yet secured title on the property and won’t until the court cases run their course.

From what I’ve seen it looks appears that the city would prefer Live Nation be successful in their bid given the company’s deep pockets and the fact that they have the most to gain by restoring and operating the venue as quickly as possible. Unless something remarkable happens I’d expect that to be the eventual outcome though its going to take some more time.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on May 11, 2008 at 7:06 am

I’m confused too. What does the Retzler group hope to do with the Uptown? And what’s happened to the other companies who were supposedly interested in this incredible theatre?

uptownjen on May 10, 2008 at 7:45 pm

thanks for the link, but i am personally confused as to what their involvement is with this theatre.

BartHalleman on May 7, 2008 at 3:47 pm

hey guys check out the retzler group web site you may find some of the projects interesting

Jayne1955 on April 30, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Hey, if the city would agree, I would agree.

Scott on April 30, 2008 at 11:08 am

No offense intended brucec, but when you’re done with that magic wand can I borrow it?

bruceanthony on April 30, 2008 at 9:23 am

The City should move quickly to secure and take care of all the legal issues concerning the Uptown. The current owner who ever they are can’t take care of this theatre properly which has led the decline of this theatre and at times has become dangerous structure.
Lets cut through the red tape and lets get going. There is a huge demand for a mid size theatre seating 4000 for touring musical acts who can’t fill the large arenas.brucec

paullewis on April 14, 2008 at 11:02 am

recently saw the video on the Uptown and concluded that this movie palace has to be included in the top 4 ever built and simply must be saved as the others have gone. Its loss would be equivalent to the demolition of the Fox San Francisco and the Roxy New York, acts of extreme vandalism from which those cities have never recovered.

uptownjen on March 24, 2008 at 5:37 pm

cool. thanks for posting those little tidbits.

Jayne1955 on March 24, 2008 at 4:56 pm

My uncle was working there in the 30’s, then went in the navy during WWII and came back for awhile in the 50’s, before going to work for Wanzer’s Dairy.

He said once someone stole a painting from one of the alcoves. He was asked to describe it, since no one could remember exactly what it looked like. They found it in a pawn shop, based on his description.

He’s got some great pictures of groups of staff sitting on the stage, but he won’t part with them long enough for me to get them scanned.

He was working one day and they called him into the office and told him he had to get home. His ten year old brother had just died of tetnus. The brother had been ill for awhile. The whole staff helped him get through that. He married a cashier from the Riviera, across the street.

I’ll try to get him to talk about it more next time I see him, and I’ll try to get some of the old pictures copied.

uptownjen on March 24, 2008 at 3:12 pm

jayne, we’d love to “hear” any stories that you have from your uncle if you have a chance to type them up.

Jayne1955 on March 21, 2008 at 6:57 am

Nortown, send me a message at

I’m going to trust everyone here not to abuse my address. Anyone who worked at these theatres got very involved with them and has fun reminiscing. I hope everyone here will understand that.

My uncle is 96 and worked at the Uptown. I showed him some of the pictures from here and it brought out a flood of great stories.

Nortown on March 20, 2008 at 9:46 pm

Just catching up on these Uptown posts…it would break my heart to see the Uptown end up in rubble like the Nortown. As a side note, Jayne1955, you and I worked together at the Nortown for several years. Not sure if there is a way to say hi to you off line and catch up.

Jayne1955 on March 17, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Great post, Scott! You nailed it! That is the most fair resume of the situation I’ve seen in awhile.

Jayne1955 on March 17, 2008 at 7:25 am

I don’t care who saves it or for what purpose. The important thing is that it is saved. If we get an owner that doesn’t thrill us, well, owners come and go, as we all know well. That the building remains is what matters.