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 on September 16, 2012 at 8:39 am

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 on September 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm

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 on September 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm

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 on September 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

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 1, 2013 at 10:51 pm

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

dallasmovietheaters on March 17, 2014 at 10:06 am

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


DavidZornig on March 20, 2014 at 7:31 am

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 on May 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm

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


Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 23, 2015 at 1:13 am

Here are a few paragraphs about the Telenews Theatre from the January 5, 1940, issue of The Film Daily:


“Chicago — Latest advances in motion picture theater equipment are incorporated in the new Telenews Theater recently opened here by its owners and operators, Midwest News Reel Theaters, of which Herbert Scheftel of New York City is president.

“House has RCA sound, Simplex projectors, and American Seating Co.’s Bodiform chairs. Approximately 400 of the latter are installed on the main floor of the auditorium, and 200 in the balcony.

“A Westinghouse air conditioning system is used, Perey turnstiles, and Stanley Bigelow carpets supplied by Marshall Field Co.

“The theater has a unique front and marquee, White Way Co. lighting, plus clear cut screen effect and excellent acoustics.

“Marshall Field supplied the furnishings for the rest rooms. Equipment contract was executed by National theater Supply.

“Shaw, Naess and Murphy were architects.”

The first Telenews Theatre opened in San Francisco on September 1, 1939, just in time to show newsreels of the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany. The timing helped make the theater a tremendous success, and the company rapidly expanded to other cities. Not surprisingly newsreel theaters flourished during the war and early post-war years, but went into decline with the arrival of television, which could bring breaking news into people’s homes. Still, a handful of newsreel houses hung on into the 1960s, usually by pairing newsreels with feature-length documentaries.

Charles F. Murphy, who had no formal training in architecture, founded the firm of Shaw, Naess & Murphy with architects Alfred P. Shaw and Sigurd Naess in 1937. Murphy had previously been personal secretary to architect Ernest Graham, of the firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, successors to D. H. Burnham & Company. Shaw and Naess had also been with the firm, Shaw having been a junior partner since 1929.

DavidZornig on March 23, 2015 at 7:47 am

Below link has photos from a 1940 dual premiere at the Chicago and State-Lake Theatres. One photo of the TeleNews, which I added to the Loop’s Photos Section. I added the link to the Chicago and State-Lake CT pages too. Copy & paste to view.


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