Plaza Theatre

308 W. North Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60610

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DavidZornig on July 21, 2017 at 5:31 am

50 years ago today. July 21, 1967 Tribune movie page with an ad for the Plaza.

yrrab1 on December 19, 2016 at 10:51 pm

theater in 1962. it became an adult house in 1962.nthe playmates sold popcorn and posed for photos in the lobby. the dancer were hired for the stage shows. one of the playmates wore a topless swimsuit on north avenue beach as a publicity stunt on June 20, 1964. at one time the plaza, kim, oak and town (now the park west) were all operated by the same owners. I believe that they still own the park west. a tragic homicide occurred there after hours around 1968 and 1969.

yrrab1 on December 19, 2016 at 10:36 pm

the plaza was reopened as an art theatr

KenC on February 23, 2011 at 11:21 am

Just noticed- on May 8, 1968, the nearby TOWN theatre on Armitage had ON STAGE IN PERSON TURA SATANA (star of Faster Pussycat). I heard Tura passed away recently. Met her at the Music Box not long ago….. RIP.

KenC on February 23, 2011 at 10:58 am

Thanks for the pic, Compass. I remember the huge vertical sign ;had forgotten what the marquee was like. What was playing that day- HOLLYWOOD NUDIST REPORT and ADOLESCENT SHAME?? And the sidewalk sign by the curb states FREE PARKING…? Just want to make one correction- if the pic is from 1964, the Plaza was not close to demolition. I have the Sun Times movie listings from May 8, 1968- the Plaza was still open, showing AGONY OF LOVE plus THE NAKED CAPER.It may have been in operation til 1969 or even to 1970. Anyway, thanks again for posting.

CompassRose on February 20, 2011 at 9:08 am

Exterior of Plaza on North Avenue, Chicago, circa 1964: Plaza.

Darrel Wood
Darrel Wood on January 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Ogden north of North Avenue was removed in 1967 as part of an urban renewal project for Lincoln Park.
A very detailed description of Ogden can be read on the awesome site Forgotten Chicago:

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 5, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Sure enough, if you look at Google Maps you can see where it ran up to Armitage. I wonder when and why they decided to build the neighborhood over it.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 5, 2009 at 2:19 pm

I think Ogden at one time ran past North all the way to Clark St. Someone once told me that you can spot the former path pretty easily by looking at an aerial photograph.

DavidZornig on January 4, 2009 at 8:39 pm

I just remembered that Ogden Ave. actually used to “start” back then at North Ave. Not too far West of this locale. At approximately Larrabie St.
Where the giant lot for Father & Son Pizza is.

Ogden then wound S/W starting at Clybourn, then up & over a huge bridge at Division & Halsted. A bridge that became badly deteriorated over time. Concrete falling, etc.
That portion of Ogden Ave. was closed off to traffic for many years before ultimately being torn down in 1991. Remnants of that bridge can be seen across the river from the S/W corner of Division & Halsted. Behind the towing outfit.

Several chase seens were filmed on that bridge before it’s demise.
I believe for either Steve McQueen’s “The Hunter”, Chuck Norris' “Code Of Silence” or both.

KenC on January 4, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Yes, the Plaza Playmates were more like Playboy bunnies -without the bunny ears and tail- than real strippers. Good looking, although the one who sold me the popcorn had lots of makeup and bright red lipstick. The Plaza must have had huge AC and heating bills; the place was that big. That was probably a factor in its closing-and, of course, the competition.

DavidZornig on January 4, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Thanks for clarifying it had closed by `74 KenMc. I knew I hadn’t missed theatre that obvious.

A lot of the Wells Street clubs & shops had promotional hawkers out front on a regular basis back then.
I could see how the Plaza Playmates might have worked double or even triple duty as advertising for the Plaza. Dancing as well as popcorn sales, etc. I haven’t reached my friend who grew up a block from there just yet. I’ll post back his recollections, and/or steer him to CT.

Dawn on January 4, 2009 at 7:45 pm

I meant Plaza not Plaze but it double posted.

Dawn on January 4, 2009 at 7:43 pm

So in other words the Plaze Playmates were more like Playboy Bunnies than actual strippers. Pretty interesting.

Dawn on January 4, 2009 at 7:43 pm

So in other words the Plaze Playmates were more like Playboy Bunnies than actual strippers. Pretty interesting.

KenC on January 4, 2009 at 7:06 pm

David- I’m sure the Plaza was gone by 1974. You couldn’t miss the place- it had a huge vertical sign ;each of the letters were quite large in block form and orange neon. It faced east; I’m guessing the other side -facing west- had the same block letters.I have no memory of the marquee or boxoffice. Inside was wide with a very high ceiling and stairs winding down to the basement where the washroom was located. Dawn- the Plaza Playmates served two functions- selling popcorn and candy behind the concession stand(my experience) and, from what I’ve heard, they were sometimes on stage dancing (evenings and/or weekends). The policy must have been a hit- clear across town-on Friday, May 20, 1966- the Kim theatre at 6219 S. Halsted was advertised as KIM ART. At the bottom of the ad :Bring Your Camera-Snap The Art Beautiful IN PERSON- KIM Playmates. Looks like both theatres had the same owners/operators at the time.

DavidZornig on December 30, 2008 at 12:27 pm

This one I completely drew a blank on. I went to high school right up the street at St. Michaels in 1974. So I rode the bus past here every day for a year. Can’t see how I missed it unless it was then recently gone. The address would put it where that giant subsidized housing high rise is near North-North Park Street, West of Weiland St. I’m not sure it’s Orleans on the North side of North Ave.
I worked at Old Town Players on North-North Park & Eugenie, and don’t remember the Plaza at all. Unlike the Aardvark, which I remember all to well.

I’ll ask my friend who grew up on Weiland about the Plaza.

P.S. So needless to say I know nothing of the Plaza Playmates. Now the Key Club though on Burton-(now Burton Place), I remember from delivering pizzas. There was always an instant dispute as to which driver would deliver there. And why it took so long to return.

Dawn on June 28, 2008 at 7:18 pm

I recently inherited old newspapers which show this theatre called the Plaza Art in 1963. In the ad it mentions a performance by the Plaza Playmates. Does anyone know who they are? I took it to mean strippers, but could be wrong.

KenC on October 17, 2006 at 5:51 pm

Perhaps the Plaza closed in the mid 50s, but it definitly reopened- and went through two name changes.From the Chicago Sun Times movie listings,Wed. May 1, 1963: New PLAZA 308 W. North Phone 337-4356 Last Week “LADY WITH THE DOG” Plus “GOOD NIGHT, SOCRATES” Op. 6p.m.-Last Complete Show 9:50. Not long after, the Plaza went to soft core adult films- similar to what the downtown Monroe theatre was showing at the time. From the Chicago Sun Times movie listings Monday May 2,1966: PLAZA ART THEATRE FREE PARKING ADULTS ONLY Continuous Daily Noon to Midnite Midnite Show FRI. & SAT. Last 2 Days! “MUDHONEY” LEAVES A TASTE OF EVIL! IN PERSON Frisco Style GO-GO GIRLS! Plus 2nd SURPRISE ADULT HIT! I went to the Plaza once as a teenager; my memories are few:a very large neighborhood theatre, lots of empty seats on the afternoon I attended, got a box of popcorn from a young lady who looked like a Playboy bunny, sitting in the auditorium watching many trailers, mostly black and white, among them “ONE SHOCKING MOMENT” “COPENHAGEN CALL GIRLS”. To Life’s too short: I’m pretty sure the Plaza was closed for good by the late 60s; for sure by the early 70s.The Aardvark theatre opened in 1966(1967?), just a few short blocks east of the Plaza. The competition was too much for the Plaza. If memory serves, the Aardvark lasted to 1974, maybe 1975 ,showing hard core porno. The Plaza was long gone.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 26, 2006 at 3:35 pm

I think it lasted at least into the 60’s. Maybe even the 70’s. I base that on foggy recollection of some vintage movie listings I saw twenty years ago. So don’t bank on my word.

I’ve seen one bad home movie clip of this theatre taken from a ways down North Avenue. It had a pretty big vertical sign, which was painted red at the time.