Harlem Outdoor Theater

4101 N. Harlem Avenue,
Norridge, IL 60706

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Showing 1 - 25 of 27 comments

DavidZornig on July 4, 2016 at 7:02 am

1951 photo added courtesy of the Chicago Past Facebook page.

fepilkington on September 19, 2013 at 8:37 am

Went here with my family when I was young (early 50’s). It seemed to be so far out in the country at the time. I remember Dunning Mental Hospital was near there. The Chicago Sun-Times had a picture of the giant screen/marquee coming down when they demolished it in the early 80’s, I believe.

rivest266 on June 23, 2012 at 9:45 am

August 29th, 1946 grand opening ad as well as a aerial photo posted here

dsadowski on June 18, 2011 at 1:01 am

I think probably the last movie I saw there was “Sisters” with Margot Kidder- the perfect drive-in flick, if you think about it. The good sister, the bad sister- enough to make your date want to hold you tightly.

RiisPark99 on November 29, 2008 at 4:45 am

Google now has a site that features photos from LIFE magazine. Click on the link below and you’ll see some shots of the Harlem Outdoor on the bottom.

View link

dwahl on March 14, 2008 at 6:03 pm

My first Drive In experience was at the Harlem Outdoor, we saw many triple feature horror shows here! “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” still my favorite, was seen here. I even remember seeing all 5 “ Planet of the Apes” movies here in one evening! I wish there was a photo availiable from this great Drive In. This place was huge and the Screen Tower could be seen a long way off.

MKuecker on October 26, 2007 at 10:18 am

What year did this close?

billscessna on July 10, 2007 at 7:04 am

I was 12 years old in 1952 and went to work for the Harlem Ave Outdoor Theatre. I worked there for 2 years, 1952 and 1953, quite an education for a young teenager. I was an usher and would direct the cars from the long road where the ticket booth was and ask them to make a hard left, all the way down to the front. Most people didn’t want to go to the front and disobeyed us. It was hot in midsummer and towards the end of the season, it got cold. After the movie was over we’d turn on the bright flood lights located on top of the screen and and chase out the remaining lovers with our WWII Jeep we’d drive that thing over the humps and bumps. The jeep was never turned off. At the end of the evening we had to kill the engine by putting it in first and popping th clutch. We had occasional fights weith young teens, but we had enough ushers in white uniforms to take care of oursevles. I have a photo of the drive in but can’t post it.

ctd on April 16, 2007 at 5:29 am

I was very young when my parents would take me to what I think was the Harlem Outdoor Theatre. I vaguely remember the surrounding scenery in the mid-70s. I was wondering, was there a mall nearby it with a great, big Montgomery-Ward neon sign in ‘76?

Aakervik22 on March 21, 2007 at 9:33 am

Thanks RiiPark. I believe I have the correct Drive-in. My date was a gorgeous blond by the name of Winnie Aakervik.

RiisPark99 on March 20, 2007 at 12:22 pm

1966 was a great time to be dating and going to the Harlem. I don’t recall ever seeing a complete movie there (thanks to Debbie Zwierczyk and Kathy Paslow—among others).

I don’t recall the entrance but I do remember the exit was a long road with trees and scrubs that lead you out to Harlem Ave.

Aakervik22 on March 20, 2007 at 3:55 am

In the early spring of 1966 I took the “Love of my life” to a drive-in on north Harlem Avenue. I recall the entrance drive was long and ran along the south of the marquee. About halfway up the drive I remembered I had no money on me and my girl had to pay for the tickets at $2 each. this was one of our earliest dates and I has quite embarrassed (I never did pay her back). Could that possible be the Harlem Outdoor?

A side note. we went our seperate ways, raise our families and after 40 years reconnected last November (she is now a grandmother of eight) and I am a father of two.

It was a great memory.

GFeret on February 21, 2007 at 6:29 am

Bryan: the silent movies @GR were projected continuously, I seem to recall, by some (antiquated, even then probably) endless-loop 8mm system. (You don’t remember the X-rated outdoor movies?) And I remember the Jo-Jo’s too, if only because they served a favorite of mine dish called THE SANTIAGO SKILLET. But what was the name Jo-Jo’s restaurants changed into after a few years…or was it the other way around? (How’s that for WAY off-topic!!)

GFeret on January 16, 2007 at 7:28 am

Yes HARLEM OUTDOOR ran X-rated movies (mid-late ‘70s?) as I remember you could plainly see them from certain points on Harlem Ave! Now there’s an attraction the newest version of the HIP mall can no longer lay claim to. The GROUND ROUND Restaurant right there was a
favorite of mine.

RiisPark99 on April 17, 2006 at 7:27 pm

Yes, it was an M&R theatre

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on April 17, 2006 at 10:57 am

Was this Outdoor Theatre operated by M&R Amusements?

rivest266 on January 12, 2006 at 2:33 pm

This drive-in opened as “Outdoor Theatre” on August 29, 1946 I uploaded the grand opening ad at http://www.drive-ins.com/theater/iltharl

Jayne2 on August 4, 2005 at 8:02 am

The Yankee Doodle Dandy is now a bank, just south of Irving next to the party store and across from Arby’s and KFC. The last time I was there I was in high school, it was closed over 25 years ago and the building was made into the bank.

The Sears auto store, I believe was built on vacant land that Sears owned. The Midwest bank was there before Sears Auto was built. It originally was part of the Walgreens building and an old-fashioned high ceilinged bank. Then the bank made a drive-through where I believe there’s a foot doctor now. Sears originally owned that land (Sears Auto) and the vacant lot which they used for overflow parking during the holidays, which is now the strip mall containing White Hen, etc. There was not a Yankee Doodle Dandy on that property that I can remember.

Trolleyguy on July 26, 2005 at 4:45 pm

This restaurant was located south of the drive-in on Harlem Ave. just north of North Avenue. It disappeared in the 60’s and was replaced by a bank and a Sears auto store.

dankapel on July 26, 2005 at 12:01 pm

Where was the Yankee Doodle Dandy? I remember one being on Northwest Highway but I may be mistaken.

My only memories of this Drive in was the Flea Market my Dad would drag me to early on Sunday Mornings and when they tore it down for the Norridge Commons.

RiisPark99 on April 17, 2005 at 12:39 pm

Harlem Ave Outdoor never showed porn. You must be delirious from all the yanking you did.

HIPKID on April 16, 2005 at 11:09 pm

As a kid, my family and I would go to the Ground Round and eat and whip peanuts at people or eat at Yankee Doodle Dandy…or as I called it “ yank my doodle, it’s a dandy” and see movies like “snoopy come home”, “jaws” or “deep throat” and scream like civs and drive my parents crazy!

RiisPark99 on March 13, 2005 at 8:56 pm

As a kid my parents took us there to see movies. My dad when buy a six pack of Pepsi (bottles of course) and Italian beef sandwiches at Pizza Palace before we went and we eat these while watching the movies. Later as a teen I went on plenty of dates (mostly with Debbie Zwierczyk) and don’t recall ever seeing a complete movie there during this time frame.

scottnchgo on March 1, 2005 at 1:55 pm

I remember going to the theater when it was closed in the winter and used as a flea market. Obviously, late in its run, they were showing x-rated movies at the drive-in. Apparently, the neighbors didn’t care for this too much. ( most of them anyway!!)