February 21, 2009

Arcadia Ballroom in Uptown Chicago: Dance Hall, Roller Rink, Boxing Ring

One of our regular readers found a great article on the Arcadia Ballroom, which was built in Uptown in 1910, served some time as a Boxing Ring and a Roller Rink, and burned down in the 1950s. The site is now part of the Wilson Yard project. Here's an excerpt of the article, with link to the rest of the story, which has some photos:

Arcadia Ballroom
4432-4456 North Broadway
Opened 1910

Opened in 1910 as a combination dance hall and skating rink, the Arcadia Ballroom, situated along the west side of Broadway just north of Montrose Avenue, was one of the Uptown district's best known entertainment destinations. During the 1920s, the ballroom became one of the city's most popular dance establishments and stood as one of the few places in the city where white audiences regularly danced to the music of all-black jazz bands. The driving force behind the Arcadia's popularity, particularly during the late 1910s and 1920s, was sports and dance promoter Paddy Harmon, whose interests included the Dreamland Ballroom and Chicago Stadium on the near west side.

At a time when most of the city's ballroom managers drew a strict color line in the hiring of bands to entertain their predominantly white patrons, Harmon willingly hired all-black jazz bands from the south side to play at the Arcadia. This made the ballroom one of only a handful of north side venues...

For complete article, go here: Arcadia.


clarendon park said...

I remember the Arcadia roller rink. I would go there on saturdays to skate in the mid 50's. One morning I grabbed my skates and walked there, only to find that it had burned down. After that rhey built a Martin Gas Station on that site, what a bummer.

George Whitey Heist said...

Hi Oldtimers,
I was thrilled to find this site. I skated at the Arcadia in 1952-1954. I skated in the speed club and the Junior Roller Derby. Leroy Bernadine was the rink manager at the time. I skated in the RSROA speed meets all over the midwest and qualified for the Nationals in 54 in Denver. I loved skating at the Chicago Coliseum on the banked track when the Chicago Westerners were in town. Thanks to to Internet in recent years I have located some of my old Arcadia friends. I would love to connect with more. George "Whitey" Heist E-mail
I have many memories and stories from the years that I skated at
4444 N. Broadway.

Anonymous said...

We lived across the street from the Arcadia Ballroom. I remember being woken up by my parents when the Arcadia burned down. The firemen were covered with icicles and I remember our neighbor who owned the music store next to our house letting the firemen into his store to warm up.

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