Posted July 22, 2011 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized


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  1. Once again, great friggin pic!! Im a sucker for all of the pics of the theaters that are gone. I never knew that the Garrick existed……Im jealous because I missed out on so many great theaters. I was born in 73 and my memory of downtown kinda starts in 80 I think? My mother worked at the main post office and her off days were Mondays. We would ride the Red Line, I think it was the lake back in the day, and would get off somewhere downtown and would walk. All I know is that I hated shopping with my mother on Mondays because we would spend so much time walking around Fields and Carsons which was BORING to me. I wudve rather stayed home with my dad. But my treat would be Miller’s Pub!! This is the place where I was formerly introduced to the “Gyros”. WOW!! I can still remember being the only black people in the entire place eating, and looking up at the posters for CATS and Evita…….Good Times indeed!! Im gonna Google the Garrick and see what I find. KEEP EM COMING!!!

    • Yes, Joe, the theaters in the Chicago of the 1950s were remarkable.

      I suspect , but do not know for sure, that Chicago had the greatest collection of true movie palaces anywhere, and they weren’t just located downtown.

      There were places like the Avalon and the Southtown or Tivoli on the south side and the Granada or Sheridan and the Congress and the Paradise on the north side. This category of theater held anywhere from around 2,500 people to about 4,000.

      People today cannot imagine the thrilling experience of going to “the movies” in those days. Most of them had a nut and candy store nearby that you smelled as you approached.

      On a Friday or Saturday evening there was a line-up to get in, which filled people with anticipation.

      Then there were the truly impressive entrances, as handsome as any legitimate theater today, the smell of popcorn from the candy counter in the lobby, and the ushers with their uniforms and flashlights – a good part-time job for teenagers – who would show you to seat if you wanted.

      The auditoriums were dark and magical with colored lights and elaborate decorations. The seats were generally done in a heavy plush.

      They were of course air-conditioned at a time when many people’s homes and apartments were not. There was always two features, the second one being what was called a “B film, ” and the two films were separated by series of cartoons and news reels and a coming attraction or two.

      There was no advertising as there is today, and the lobbies and auditoriums were quietly comfortable places, without video games or little chain food outlets, unlike the noisy, unpleasant multi-plexes of today.

      Recorded music was generally played until the feature started.

      The entire effect was delightful.

      And besides the true movie palaces, Chicago had simply scores and scores of lesser places – places like the Portage or the Jeffery or the Stony – that were nevertheless delightful. These were still places that typically held a thousand people or more.


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