Paradise Theater

231 N. Pulaski Road,
Chicago, IL 60624

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Showing 1 - 25 of 343 comments

BobbyS on June 8, 2018 at 7:02 pm

Thanks DavidZornig for photo. What a vertical! I wonder how often they had to change the many burned out bulbs? Or the high ladders they used.

DavidZornig on June 7, 2018 at 9:01 pm

1932 photo added courtesy of the Historic Chicago Facebook page.

Scott on March 21, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Bobby, I don’t remember the robot, unfortunately. But for some reason I remember buying a camera there for 75 cents, and it took great pictures! Lots of wonderful toys there. I’m glad there was no Amazon back then. As for the Paradise, I think we’re lucky it hung around as long as it did. My understanding is that it had been losing money for many years.

BobbyS on March 21, 2017 at 1:42 am

The toy department was wonderful Scott…Isn’t that where they had the live robot “Tobor” or something like that displayed with the hands and eyes moving.. It would be around 1955-56. The Paradise was still hanging on barely. A tragedy in the making..

Scott on March 8, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Right. It’s the Goldblatt’s site, not the store, which is long gone. I loved that place, especially the candy counter and the toy department.

SBGreig on February 24, 2017 at 8:58 pm

<< I notice that the main entrance to the strip mall at the SE corner of Pulaski and Madison has the word “PARADISE” in large letters above the doors. >>

That’s the old Goldblatt’s store, the onetime anchor of the Madison-Pulaski shopping district. My mother’s family lived on the West Side for about ten years in the 50s and early 60s, and she remembered shopping there many times (no memories of the Paradise, unfortunately)…perhaps her most painful memory of the 1960s was seeing the Goldblatt’s being looted on the TV news during the King riots.

amtrak4u on February 8, 2017 at 9:48 am

Has anyone got color photographs of the Balaban and Katz Paradise Theatre interior/exterior? When I worked for the former B&K company, I learned that my district manager, Ken Edgerly, had been the last manager of the Paradise. Although he followed company protocol—which was to show no sympathy or love of the old palaces, his wife informed me several times in his presence that for almost a year after he closed the Paradise, he visited almost nightly. After he’d close his current theatre, he’d drive across Chicago to check on his beloved Paradise. Because of Ken Edgerly, not to mention my own mother’s love of the Paradise when it was a young theatre, I would truly appreciate being able to see color photos of the place.

moax429 on November 25, 2016 at 3:02 pm

I wonder if this was the inspiration for Styx’s 1981 album of the same name?

I would think so, considering the group hailed from Chicago.

Scott on January 26, 2015 at 6:01 pm

I notice that the main entrance to the strip mall at the SE corner of Pulaski and Madison has the word “PARADISE” in large letters above the doors.

BobbyS on December 2, 2014 at 1:07 am

A “For Sale” sign now sits on the site of the Paradise. If you google earth, I believe you will see as I do the lobby marble glazed floors among the grass that has grown with it. The grocery store used the tiles I believe. Enlarge the photo. I recently visited the Avalon Theater in Chicago during an “Open House Chicago” and walked on the floor of the lobby. It did remind me of the Paradise in many ways. It was a great feeling and brought sadness that the Paradise was gone forever. I wonder if the lower lobby is still there intact since the floor remains. Sorta like the Titanic.

Scott on July 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Bobby, thanks for posting that. Interesting that they went with orange lighting. Would loved to have seen the original marquee in color.

BobbyS on July 10, 2014 at 12:48 am

I did it Scott. Posted photo at night. Would have liked to made it larger. Wish someone had a night view of the Marbro..

BobbyS on July 4, 2014 at 11:40 am


Scott on July 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Bobby, I was really excited about this photo since it’s the first one I’ve seen that really shows the box office in any detail. I suspect that the original, and larger, marquee cast a shadow that made the box office hard to see. In addition, this photo appears to have been taken a little closer to the building. Incidentally, that was me who theorized that the Crawford Theatre photo is from 1947. And you are correct, the original Paradise vertical is visible in the Crawford photo, so it was replaced sometime between 1947 and 1956. Probably closer to 1947, but I really don’t know. The later vertical is the only one I remember seeing as a youth. I wondered about the “free parking” as well. I know there were some surface lots in the area, but I’m not sure which one the sign refers to. The bit about the “2 BIG HITS ON EVERY PROGRAM” was there for a while, as I’ve seen it in a photo taken a year or two before the one I uploaded was taken. Since by this time the Marbro had become the theater of choice in the neighborhood, B&K probably booked lesser quality features at the Paradise. I also think that the lettering right under the marquee that says “IT’S SHOW TIME WITH THE PICK OF THE PICTURES“ remained there for some time as well.

I hope you can post your photo. Would certainly like to see it.

BobbyS on July 3, 2014 at 1:19 am

Wonderful pictures Scott !!!! I forgot how detailed the box office was. You would think somebody would have saved it for their home or back yard instead of the wrecking ball. I have a few questions. If the recent marquee is pictured and is from 1941, the original vertical from 1929 is still there. What year did the last vertical appear? In the Crawford theater posting, someone thought the year was 1947. If that is true, the Paradise had the original vertical still being used in that year. Means the newer block lettering only lived about 9 years. Is that possible? The Marbro got the new signage also in 1941, but both signs. Where was the free parking lot? I have almost the same photo in color at night. I will try and scan & post it if I can. I wonder how long “2 BIG HITS” remained on the marquee. Was this a cost-cutting measure or maybe the films were not that interesting.

Scott on June 21, 2014 at 7:28 pm

I have also added two close ups. One of the box office and one of the box office with a poster case. I lightened up the contrast on the box office to make it more visible. It’s the only good image I’ve seen of it.

Scott on June 21, 2014 at 7:14 pm

I have uploaded an interesting photo of the Paradise from 1941. Shows the exterior with a good view of the box office. If you enlarge it you’ll see pretty good detail.

Scott on April 3, 2014 at 7:18 am

Bobby, I saw the Chicago endangered list. I will be truly amazed if the Uptown is ever re-opened. I think its location really works against it.

BobbyS on April 2, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Scott,negotiations must have occurred between the two parties both businessmen with plenty of capital behind them and probably egos got in the way. Having the most beautiful movie palace with all the dimes & nickels rolling in was hard to pass up..It is still amazing to me with all the business savvy around no one could see the Great Depression around the corner. The endangered list I gave was Illinois. Just annouhnced yesterday the Chicago endangered top ten came out and the Uptown theatre is back on it…It stated the crumpling condition and the lack of potential investors. Sad..

Scott on April 2, 2014 at 11:24 am

Bobby, maybe we’ll never know whether B&K tried to buy the Marbro. That would seem to have been the sensible move, since there was no way that the area could support two giant movie palaces along with all the smaller theatres. Even in the 1920s that wouldn’t have worked; at least not from my perspective. One of those theatres was destined to be a money loser, and it turned out to be the Paradise.

BobbyS on March 31, 2014 at 11:58 pm

Thanks Scott, All this in only 26 years. WOW ! Didn’t anyone realize that the habits of the paying public would change? Didn’t anyone see how a new machine called television could change profits forever? It was a frenzy to see who could build a bigger more ornate movie palace. You would think B&K would have tried to buy out the Marks Bros. before they spent a dime or in this case millions to build the Paradise. I am glad they didn’t for I enjoyed both of them very very much and miss them both.

Scott on March 30, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Yes, here’s the story as I recall it. The Guyon family owned the land that the Paradise eventually was built on. In the early stages of the Paradise project there was a fight between Guyon and the Marks Brothers over who held the rights to name their theatre “Paradise.” Guyon won the lawsuit, which of course resulted in the Marks Brothers naming their theatre “Marbro.” Unfortunately for Guyon, however, the recent construction and opening of his hotel impeded his ability to fund the Paradise project, causing him to sell the Paradise to the Cooney Brothers. The Paradise project was also too much for the Cooney Brothers. They went bankrupt, subsequently selling the Paradise, which was only in the early stages of development, to Balaban & Katz. The bigger budget that B&K brought to the table allowed Eberson to improve his design. Obviously B&K were determined to squash the Marks Brothers, which they ultimately did. B&K purchased the Marbro around 1930 I believe. So the land the Paradise sat on went from Guyon to the Cooney Brothers to B&K, and then to the company that developed the grocery store.

BobbyS on March 13, 2014 at 1:15 pm

A few days ago the Chicago Tribune announced the 5 buildings that were endangered. It included the Jeffery theatre and the Guyon hotel. It stated the owner also owned the Paradise Ballroom. I bet he also owned the land that the Paradise Theatre was built on. Wasn’t B&K the third group that built the Paradise? They must have eventually bought the land because they sold it or maybe leased it to the ill-fated grocery store that replaced the beautiful building.

rivest266 on June 26, 2012 at 7:03 am

Grand opening ad from September 14th, 1928 uploaded in the photo section.

BobbyS on June 8, 2012 at 1:22 am

Thanks Tinseltoes for the ads..Very very interesting to read.