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« Old School | Main | There Are Places I Remember »

February 15, 2010


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Chicago Observer

Bill, you may recall the Nortown theater, too, on Western near Devon. A few years ago it was demolished. Another so memorable “atmospheric,” everything about it sparkled--from the pop machines that served carbonated drinks from drop-down paper cups, to the stars on the ceiling. I was able to secure one of those stars! It’s a rusty metal cone with a tiny opening at the tip. If a bulb burned out of one of these hundreds of stars, someone had to literally walk the ceiling planks in the dark to replace the bulb. Also, I was able to secure a salvaged plaster Neptune that was part of the Nortown’s wall décor. It now graces our bathroom. I look at these old things and always think of the magic they created. Your photos of the Riviera and the Uptown are swell. Thanks for keeping part of your heart in Chicago.


One day that alley door to the Uptown was open, and I was able to peer inside and get just a tiny glimpse of what must be an extraordinary hall.


Was the Lake Shore the theatre on Broadway north of Belmont? I think of that as the Broadway theatre, but your post makes me think I remembered the wrong name. You should of course include your history with another longtime Chicago movie theatre, the Sandburg aka Playboy aka Surf (wasn't that its first name?). My all-time favorite was the Chicago Avenue theatre east of Michigan Ave., and the Fine Arts had a good run too.


The story of my old childhood theater is a raging success. Through community involvement and support of stars like Tony Randall, this theater was saved. And the best part: look what they're showing! It is a quick and easy ride on the PATH, New Jersey transit, anywhere from 33rd Street in Manhattan through Greenwich Village to get there:

Snippety Gibbet

It just breaks my heart to see the old theaters go by the wayside. The one in my hometown was brought back a couple of times, with good intentions but not a lot of cash. Many years later the building shows no sign of its former glory. jan

Elsita :)

The only nice theater in my home town (in Holguin, Cuba) is a ghost building right now. It used to be a place of splendor and beauty, now it's the opposite :( I hope that something good happens to it one day.

Alan Shapiro

We moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1952. I remember going to the Terminal theater on Lawrence and the Drake on Montrose. The Terminal played the large musicals and other "big" movies, while the Drake played what became known as film noir and "B" pictures.

Marguerite Horberg

sorry to burst another bubble baby bro but these two theaters are owned by Jam Productions and most nights feature lines of goths or teens wearing pj's or whatever it is the kids do these days .....inline waiting for Dave Matthews or Crow-or MOE or endless rock n roll bands I have no idea about. It's a hip happening corner with the Aragon just round the bend - just cuz yu tellin tales outta school from lala land don't mean we gotta sit here in chi and swallow these tall tales


I'm delighted to have found your blog. My favorite during the 50s and 60s was the Granada and can recall going to a smaller theater a bit north on Clark St known as the Adelphi.
I want to thank your sister Marguerite for getting me up to speed on Lawrence and Broadway. Even though I still live in the Chicago area, I had no idea that the Aragon,Uptown, and Riviera are cool again. A revival of these venues is great news.

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