Downtown Chicago’s Historic Movie Theatres

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About the Book

The story of downtown Chicago—its early development, later struggles, and current restoration—is mirrored in the history of the theatres that occupied its streets. This vivid chronicle tells the tale of the Windy City’s theatres, from mid-nineteenth century vaudeville houses to the urban decline and renewal of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Discussed are the rebuilding efforts after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the first nickel theaters showing “moving pictures,” the ornate silent movie palaces, the move to “talkies,” the challenges of the Great Depression and the introduction of television, and urban decline. Today, Chicago has preserved some of its most historic movie palaces, landmarks of cultural vibrancy in its reawakened downtown. With nearly 200 photographs from the Theatre Historical Society of America, this work brings to life all of the theatres that have enlivened Chicago’s entertainment district, reflecting the transformation of downtown Chicago itself.

About the Author(s)

The late Konrad Schiecke was a retired director of Large Signal Engineering, Magnetic Components and Projection Optics Engineering from Zenith Electronics Corporation. A long-time member and former director of the Theatre Historical Society of America, he collected and restored 35mm theatre equipment. He lived in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Bibliographic Details

Konrad Schiecke
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 201
Bibliographic Info: 194 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6590-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8865-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Introduction      1

PART I : HISTORICAL OVERVIEW      5

1—Early Amusements      7

2—Moving Pictures and the Nickel Theatres      12

3—The Movie Palaces and the Films that Talked      22

4—An Era Ends      32

PART II : THE THEATRES      39

The Theatres as They Opened after the Great Fire      41

Theatres Opening from 1900      80

Theatres Opening from 1910      101

Theatres Opening from 1920      117

South State Street Theatres      167

Appendix A: Downtown Chicago Theatre Circuits      177

Appendix B: Downtown Chicago’s Historic Movie Theatres      180

Bibliography      185

Index      193

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “An excellent historical overview of Chicago’s theatrical history…. Recommended”—Reference Reviews
  • “Schiecke, relates the history of movie theaters in downtown Chicago that opened after the Great Fire of 1871”—Reference & Research Book News