5216 W. Lawrence Avenue,
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The Gateway was one of the larger neighborhood theaters built for the Balaban & Katz chain in Chicago, located in the Jefferson Park neighborhood on Lawrence Avenue at Laramie Avenue. The theater was opened on June 27 1930, designed in Atmospheric style with classical Roman-inspired flourishes; complete with a dark blue, starlit sky in the auditorium and classical statuary and vines on the side walls. It was one of only a very few Atmospheric style theaters by the firm of Rapp & Rapp, and one of the later of their numerous theaters for Balaban & Katz.
The Gateway Theater was built for movies, though it did have a small stage. It remained a very popular theater for decades, managing to have packed houses through the 1970’s.
In 1985, the Copernicus Foundation, a Polish-American society serving Chicago’s huge Polish community, acquired the Gateway Theater from Plitt Theatres, and the interior restored it to its original splendor. As part of the restoration, the foundation added the now-distinctive Solidarity Tower, a smaller reconstruction of a now-demolished clock tower once a feature of Warsaw’s Royal Castle, visible from the nearby Kennedy Expressway.
Today, the Gateway Theater is host to community gatherings, most notably, the popular Taste of Polonia Fair. It is also used for special film screenings and other special events.
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