Image: Riviera Theatre, Chicago. From CinemaTreasures.org
As you probably know, in the early decades of the twentieth century, the streets of Chicago were riddled with hundreds of theatres, showing live shows such as vaudeville and burlesque, silent films, and eventually modern movies - or any combination thereof, and thus provided for their patrons an escape from the dirty city around them and from their sweltering or freezing apartments. By the 1950s, television and radio became ubiquitous, and because of them, not as many people went to theatres. Soon, many of the theatres began to close. But, though time and technology have marched on, many of the buildings still stand. Some, like the Uptown Theatre are well-known. But many are not. From the data I can cull off of cinematreasures.org (awesome site!), there are currently 164 old theatres still standing in the city. Most are deep within the neighborhoods, serving some new function - perhaps a church or a retail store. In other cases, they have become community centers or gathering spaces for the neighborhoods that surround them. And, sadly, quite a few of them sit abandoned and forlorn. Some are amazing palaces still filled with grandeur evoking exotic lands. Others were utilitarian from the start and can easily be overlooked as just another building of the tens of thousands that make up the city.
Using data from that site, I have put together an Excel spreadsheet of the theatres that still stand. Use this to take a road trip around the city and see what you find :-) Report back if you find anything really cool...
Spreadsheet (In Excel 97-2003 Format - download the file to your computer for best viewing)
Here is a link to ForgottenChicago's page on old movie palaces, as well: click
Monday, January 18, 2010
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