Metropolitan Theatre

4644 S. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive,
Chicago, IL 60653

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learvinl on November 7, 2017 at 2:19 pm

I did get the opportunity to visit this landmark and piece of Chicago history before it was closed down 1979 and if i’m not mistaken the last movie that was shown there is THE WIZ

DavidZornig on November 11, 2015 at 3:32 am

Mid `60’s Demlinger Photograph added.

Broan on October 11, 2015 at 5:56 pm

Here is a 1917 review of the theatre. The reviewer judged the 25' screen to be too big.

delano on March 11, 2014 at 5:05 am

This comment affects to entries (THE MET & THE REGAL). Chicago has an address scheme that causes EVEN numbers to appear on the WEST and NORTH, while ODD numbers appear on the EAST and SOUTH.. The Regal is on the EAST side of King Drive, therefore 4719. The MET was across the street therefore it would have been something like 4744 …

rivest266 on June 26, 2012 at 1:54 am

Grand opening ad in the photo section of this theatre.

Byte19 on January 12, 2012 at 12:00 am

My Movie-Loving Genes were Born In This Palace… Thanks to My Mom knowing the owners at the time… Me and My Sister were getting in EVERY Thursday, Friday AND Saturday for FREE with free drinks and candy… Jaws, Carrie, Enter The Dragon, and Blaxploitation fare like Coffey, and Run Ni**er Run was running across my young eyes and I Was HOOKED!!! Thanks Mom..

JonPutnam on December 20, 2007 at 9:52 pm

CHICAGO TRIBUNE (December 10, 1997)

“Final Curtains Coming Down on Met Theater — Community Split on Whether Razing of Landmark is Loss”

by Jerry Thomas

Toni Constonie circled the streets around the old Metropolitan Theater all morning Tuesday. From her blue van, she kept an eye out for the wrecking ball crew.

But neither her vigilant watch, nor the protests she helped organize, nor the last-minute calls she made around the city could save this once-popular show house at 4640-48 S. King Drive in the city’s Grand Boulevard neighborhood.

The city decided on Tuesday to finally tear down the building, which had lingered in demolition court for almost 10 years. A construction crew arrived shortly after noon with a crane for the four-week project of razing the 81-year-old, red brick and terra cotta building, which closed in 1979.

The order to raze the building has caused mixed reaction in a neighborhood trying to recapture its legacy as the center of entertainment and commerce in the African-American community.

“We are much concerned and very angry that they will move ahead with the demolition without the support of the citizens from the 3rd Ward,” said Harold Lucas, president of the Black Metropolis Convention and Tourism Council, a community organization.

But some neighborhood residents only questioned why demolition took so long.

“When I was going there, rats were running across the stage; I saw more rats than actors,” said a middle-aged man who declined to give his name.

For those who joined picket lines, made appearances in court and telephoned elected officials and preservationists in an attempt to save the building, the Met is one of the last landmarks along the old 47th Street entertainment and business corridor, where blacks could also shop for food and clothing. Operation PUSH once used the theater as a meeting place.

“I am disappointed, but it’s not the first building I lost,” said Constonie, mentioning the Jordan Center, at 35th and State Streets, and the Regal Theater, 47th and King. “(The Regal) was one of the most famous buildings, only second to the Apollo in Harlem. We had it torn down for a parking lot.”

Opponents of the demolition also see the city’s action as evidence that elected officials do not value landmarks in the black community as much as they do in other neighborhoods. Two years ago, the community stopped the demolition of the Supreme Life Building at 35th and King, and now that property will be converted into a visitors information center, Lucas said.

About 1,500 residents, he said, had signed a petition objecting to the Met being razed; Lucas said several entrepreneurs have expressed interest in the building.

Much of the neighborhood criticism is aimed at Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd), whose office sits directly across the street from the Met. Several people questioned why she has failed to find an adaptable use for the property, and they hold her accountable for allowing somebody to steal the terra cotta symbols from the building.

Tillman said the criticism against her is politically motivated by those seeking her ward seat.

She stressed that she prevented the building from being torn down for the past eight years because she got a stay of protection.

Now, however, she supports the demolition because the building has been deemed structurally unsound and she believes construction of the long-awaited Lou Rawls Cultural and Resource Center will begin next year. “We will look like Chinatown and Greektown,” she said.

City officials, however, reject the claim they were not protecting the best interest of the community.

“I think everyone realizes the city is totally in favor of rehabbing when the resources are there. I personally feel like nobody can argue that point,” said Kathleen Walsh, public information officer for the Department of Buildings. Walsh said she didn’t have information available on the current owners of the Met.

“Sometimes,” she said, “I think the city gets unfairly blamed when it is the owners of these properties who have walked away, and then the burden does become that of the community. It represents the challenges we face. What happens tomorrow if a child gets raped in that building? Then, it is the city that did not move fast enough.”

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 10, 2006 at 3:03 pm

I photographed the Met around 1989-90 somewhere. It looked much as it appears in the photo above, though my gut (based on seeing hundreds of these buildings) says the interior was pretty trashed. You could easily spot this one from the South Side Elevated.