Rialto Theatre

624 Ninth Street,
Rock Island, IL 61201

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Rialto Theater

The Rialto stood on Ninth Street (today Martin Luther King Drive) near 6th Avenue. It opened in 1921 with a seating capacity of 600 and was built by Michael Brotman. The Brotman family operated the Rialto until 1942.

By the time it is listed in the 1951 Film Daily Yearbook, the seat count was reduced to 300. The Rialto closed in 1974 and was razed that year to make way for the Martin Luther King Center.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

pogey41 on January 21, 2008 at 6:03 am

I was born and raised in Rock Island and the correct location for the Rialto would have been 624 – 9th Street (I grew up across the street). Affectionately known as ‘The Rat Hole,’ this theater closed later than the 50s, because I went there as a child and was born in 1962. I may go to the local library and see if I can find picture of the Rialto on microfiche.

elnino103083 on April 29, 2008 at 3:57 pm


I am doing a historical geography project on that area. Do you think you could email whatever pictures you find there to ? It would be a terrific help to me if you could.

Thank you in advance.

pogey41 on April 30, 2008 at 4:43 am

I will see what I can do. What is your project about? Are you close to this area? I can also find out about every business that was in that area (9th Street, between 5th and 8th Avenues). It may take a while to find the info on microfiche (as I’ll have to narrow down the dates of the closing, etc).

elnino103083 on April 30, 2008 at 6:13 am

Its for a historical geography class I am taking at Augustana. I need to get an old-timey picture of the 9th Street business district, then get a contemporary picture from the same spot, and explain how the region has changed in a short essay.

I chose the 600 block of the 9th Street Business district simply because I found from old newspapers that this block lost 11 of its 14 businesses between 1963 and 1983, and I wanted to figure out why this happened. I have not found any pictures in my searches so far, as city hall’s oldest pictures from the region date to the building of the King Center(after the Rialto was razed) and I only found one picturelessarticle from 1993 in my searches at the Rock Island library. Again, if you can provide me with any assistance, I would be grateful.

pogey41 on April 30, 2008 at 6:37 am

Again, I’ll see what I can do. I’ll talk to my Mom today to see if we can figure out when it closed, because I vaguely remember something in the paper. You are not from this area, are you?

elnino103083 on April 30, 2008 at 6:45 am

No, I only go to school out here. When I’m not attending classes at Augustana I call Barrington, Illinois home.

TomBarrister on September 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

“Rat Hole” was right. I remember going there in the 50’s, and it wasn’t too nice even then. If I remember, the Blackhawk Theater wasn’t far from there, about 6 blocks south and east. It wasn’t too nice, either. The neighborhood had started to get bad by the early 1960’s. 11th street was the main merchant area outside of downtown then. It was the “Strip”, so to speak. Now almost nothing is left.

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