Loop Theater

165 N. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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LOOP Theatre; Chicago, Illinois.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Originally known as the Telenews Theater when it opened on December 23, 1939, this small theater was once the place where moviegoers could see a couple of cartoons, a newsreel, a comical short, and the famous “March of Time” news reports, all in a single hour.

Keeping with its newsy theme, a United Press teletype clacked away in the lobby where an usher would spike the copy on the wall behind the machine.

The Telenews Theater had seating provided in orchestra and balcony levels. It was renamed the Loop Theater in April of 1950 and began to show first-run features. In July of 1950, the newsreel policy was restored, as was the Telenews name. In August of 1953, the theater again switched to first-run films, and the name was changed, this time for good, to the Loop Theater.

In the mid-to-late-1960’s, the theater began to show a lot of B-grade films as well as Russ Meyer-type adult films, in addition to continuing to screen first-run features. The theater thrived during this mixed-format programming. The Loop Theater closed April 2, 1978.

For years, the former Loop Theater had housed a retail store but had been vacant for some time. The building was demolished in November and December 2005 to make way for a mixed-use 31-story high rise originally called MoMo (for Modern Momentum), but now called the Joffrey Tower, for the Joffrey Ballet, which is now housed in the building. The tower also is home to the Residences at the Joffrey Tower condominiums and two floors of retail space.

Contributed by Ray Martinez, John Keating

Recent comments (view all 68 comments)

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 16, 2012 at 6:15 am

It might be one of the reasons, but not the only or even the most important. The downtown Chicago palaces, like those in many other cities, started their decline as cinemas with the advent of television and the Paramount Consent decree.

With the exception of Michael Todd and Cinestage theaters (which at the end were the Dearborn Cinemas) and perhaps one or two others, none of the really big houses in the Loop went to anything really like soft porn.

Many did go to cheaper horror, kung-fu and exploitation features in the 1960’s and 70’s. But what lead to the demise of so theaters in the Loop was a steep decline of patronage, some of it due to fear of street crime, and a city administration at the time that tended to look at the palaces as desirable parcels of real estate for commercial redevelopment

chicagomike47
chicagomike47 on September 16, 2012 at 12:20 pm

If that’s the case, did the policy change of showing soft porn, kung-fu, horror features ect. invite that element around those theaters,driving away the general patronage, or did they change because of that element?

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm

A true chicken-or-the egg question! I am sure that many, if not most of the patrons of the Loop Palaces of the time were just there to see a movie. Based on my experience (I saw quite a number of films in Loop area the late 1960’s and 70’s), the threat of violence was exaggerated, but as they say, perceptions are reality. The Loop theaters, given their proximity to CTA bus and train lines made it easier for the less affluent to have access to a movie theater, as the neighborhood theaters were disappearing in Chicago as they were in other metropolitan areas.

From the theater operators' perspective, these films were what brought people in at the time. During the period in question, parts of the Loop became very downtrodden and there was decreasing foot traffic, as many stores and restaurants were closing and the malls were proliferating in the suburbs. Under such conditions, crime tends to increase, and many Chicagoans who were Loop patrons now went to the suburban theaters both for convenience and due to perceptions of danger. But Chicago was hardly unique with regard to what happened in its central core retail and entertainment area.

In a way, it was fortunate in that in showing some kind of film – any kind of film – the result was that the owners had to do at least some basic maintenance and repair and in doing so, kept the wrecking ball away long enough so that when things got better economically, at least a few palaces were left to restore. The reason that the Oriental and the Chicago survived is at least partially due to what the then-owners did to keep the doors open.

chicagomike47
chicagomike47 on September 17, 2012 at 6:19 am

probably the best example of how to run a theater properly is the grauman’s chineese theater in hollywood. even tho 90% of hollywood blvd. is a slum with mostly seedy stores, this theater is kept up in excellent condition drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors a year not only to view the footprints of the stars in front of it, but they also show first run, first rate films, which also can be said for the EL CAPITAN theater across the street, and the EGYPTIAN theater down the block.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 17, 2012 at 7:18 am

I do not know when you were there last, chicagomike, but there have been substantial improvements both along Hollywood Boulevard and in the surrounding area. I would not call it a slum anymore.

The Chinese, while still a revered institution, has had some challenges over the last few years. Take a look at its page here on CT and you will see what I mean.

Finally, the Egyptian really is not what I would call a first run theater; as the home of the American Cinemathéque, it shows a mix of classics, themed retropectives, documentaries, and other films not often seen in commercial theaters, Depending on the day of the week in a particular month, it might be closed.

What I long for is full restoration of the Hollywood Pacific.

chicagomike47
chicagomike47 on September 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm

you are very correct in everthing you wrote, and i thank you for your input.my fondest memories when i was a young boy was to ride the illinois central to the loop, walking through MASHALL FIELD’S and attending a first run {and many times a world premeire, including I WANT TO LIVE,at the STATE LAKE, and NORTH BY NORTHWEST, at the UNITED ARTISTS,and it’s all gone now!One last thing. if you obtain a dvd of NORTH BY NORTHWEST under SPECIAL FEATURES you can actualy see ALFRED HITCHCOCK in front of the united artists theater signing autographs. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR INPUT!

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on April 2, 2013 at 6:51 am

Today, April 2, is the 35th Anniversary of the Loop Theatre putting on its last picture show.

dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on March 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Vivian Meier’s shot of the theater can be found at http://www.vivianmaier.com/gallery/street-2/#slide-16

Here

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on March 20, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I added a number of images to the Photos Section that were either previously in dead links or newly found via Facebook or other sources. I credited the sources whenever I could.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 23, 2014 at 9:53 pm

The Loop is seen in this Vivian Maier film at 5:41, 6:20 & 7:27.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXASDjCwxsE&feature=youtu.be

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