September 30, 2010

Up on the Roof of the Edgewater Beach Hotel During Demolition

Thanks to Thomas Ward for sending in these great shots of the demolition of the Edgewater Beach Hotel, which took place in 1970. Tom grew up in Andersonville and went to Trumbull and Amundsen schools.

According to Thomas, "The demolition occurred very slowly, allowing us adventurous types to roam around inside. My first trip inside was at night, making our way over debris to the lobby area where we had to cross to a stairwell on the east side of the building. A climb to the top and to the center (for lack of a better description) balcony for the view of a lifetime. The braver ones, not I, climbed the mast. I returned several times over that summer, bringing my Instamatic camera with. And as the summer progressed, more of the building came down, making the climb more and more dangerous. Near the end, a lot of other adventurers vandalized the interior. There were initials spray painted on that center exterior that were photographed and put in the neighborhood paper. I've tried to find that picture for a long time and have had no luck."

Jim Russ, Pat Gallagher and Pat Ward on the East roof. When asked if it was okay to name names, Tom replied, "The statue of limitations is over."
From that center balcony looking southeast.  The Foster Ave. underpass of Lake Shore Drive is near center with the Foster Beach house to the left, packed parking lot and Montrose Beach in the distance.
Tom further writes, "My earliest memory is being walked across Foster at Sheridan at night time and seeing the red light on the top of the mast at EBH.  On one of the night excursions, one of the guys got that light bulb and brought it down.  I think he still has it.  Like I said, climbing the mast wasn't in me."

Thanks again, Tom, for sharing these!

If any of you have images or memories of Uptown and Edgewater that you'd like to share, send them in! We'd love to post them.

Broadway (Old Evanston Avenue) and Wilson, Uptown, Chicago

We've posted hundred-year-old images of this corner in the past, but this one shows a slightly different perspective from a few hundred feet south and a nice view of the gorgeous terra cotta building that once stood on the southeast corner. Evanston Avenue was renamed Broadway in 1914.

This particular image is currently up for auction at Wilson and Broadway, Uptown, Chicago.

For other great views of this corner, go here and here.

Fredrick's Dining Room, Sheridan and Foster, 1956

Our new favorite seller on eBay has posted another wonderful image of Uptown; this one is of Fredrick's Dining Room at Sheridan and Foster, circa 1956. It's available for sale on eBay (search Fredrick's Dining Room).

September 25, 2010

Demolition of the Edgewater Beach Hotel

Oh how depressing! I asked on our Facebook page last week if anyone had images of the demolition of the Edgewater Beach Hotel, and a fan pointed me toward this link on eBay:

September 24, 2010

Vintage Essanay Advertisement with Charlie Chaplin's Film "His New Job"

A vintage advertisement for Essanay's "newest" films, featuring His New Job, the one film Charlie Chaplin filmed in Uptown Chicago.

Get the original here: Charlie Chaplin at Essanay

September 21, 2010

Edgewater Beach Apartments, 1961

An excellent photo that shows how the Lake Shore Drive extension cut the Edgewater Beach Hotel and Edgewater Beach Apartments off from the beach.

The same seller has this image of the drive, as seen from a room in the Edgewater Beach Hotel:

Wilson Avenue Beach, Back in the Day

The Chicago Tribune ran this photo in 1949, as part of a "Chicago History" column. It shows women swimming at Wilson Avenue Beach. Thank goodness heavy woolen swimsuits and stockings are no longer in style!

Original photo is available on eBay from here: Wilson Avenue Bathing Beauties

Sheridan Park Depot, Uptown Chicago, 1903

Can anyone guess where this idyllic looking spot once was? Okay, I guess the title of the blog post gives it away...

Sheridan Park Depot, 1903. This photo originally ran in the Chicago Tribune. The caption reads, "Sheridan Park Depot of the Evanston Branch of the C.M.St.P.R.R. — 1903. Present site of the Wilson Ave. Elevated Station." Photo available on eBay here: Sheridan Park Depot

6200 Kenmore, Sovereign Hotel

The Sovereign Hotel, at 6200 Kenmore, as it looked in 1957. The Sovereign was designed by Walter W. Ahlschlager. Ahlschlager was the architect who designed the elaborate terracotta Broadway Building, the Sheridan-Plaza Hotel at Wilson and Sheridan, and the Pantheon Theatre (torn down) on Sheridan, just north of Wilson.

To see the original floor plans of the Sovereign, go to Walter Ahlschlager PDF.

September 20, 2010

Another View of the Granada

Last week, we posted a photo of the Granada after a fire. Here's another from the same series. A fire on April 12, 1955 in a small pub next to the Granada Theater forced the evacuation of movie goers.

Original image available here: View of the Granada

1729 Montrose, at Hermitage in 1965

The Equator Restaurant, 1729 W. Montrose, as it looked in 1965. Check out the detail on the corner of the building. I can't tell if it's tile or painted on. In any case, it's no longer visible on the building today.

The vintage photo is available from Hermitage and Montrose. Modern image from Google street views.

September 19, 2010

Sheridan and Sheffield, Hebard Storage

What's missing from this image?

The Red Line! (Also, half the building.)

The storage facility at Sheffield and Sheridan, with its distinctive clock tower, has been here a long time. Postcard reads: "LOOK FOR THE CLOCK IN THE TOWER" HEBARD'S STORAGE WAREHOUSE, SHERIDAN ROAD AND SHEFFIELD AVENUE.

Purchase original postcard here: Sheridan and Sheffield

September 15, 2010

Another View of the Pantheon...

It's been brought to our attention that there aren't many photos of the Pantheon Theatre in existence (see illustration of front that we posted earlier today). The Library of Congress has a great one that's worth sharing; the perspective is Sheridan, looking north from Wilson. The theatre is on the left.

Pantheon Theatre, 4642 N. Sheridan, Uptown, Chicago

The Uptown wasn't the only large movie house in Uptown. Before that, there was the Pantheon, located just north of Wilson on Sheridan. Designed by Walter Ahlschlager for the Lubliner and Trinz chain, it opened in 1918. Here's a great advertisement for Kewanee Smokeless boilers featuring the Pantheon Theatre.

According to Cinema Treasures:

"The Pantheon opened its doors in 1918 for the Lubliner & Trinz chain, located in the Uptown neighborhood on Sheridan Road at Eastwood Avenue. At the time it opened, it was said to have 3000 seats. It was the largest movie theater in the area until seven years later, when the nearby Uptown Theatre opened. The theater cost over $750,000 to build, and was decorated in the style of the Italian Renaissance, complete with a double organ and a 30-piece orchestra. Within a few years, the operation of the Pantheon was taken over by Essaness until, like so many other theaters in Chicago, it was added to the always-expanding Balaban and Katz chain. By the 50s, the Uptown neighborhood was no longer the entertainment mecca it was from the 1910s through WWII, and the Pantheon's fortunes rapidly declined, as did the rest of Uptown. The Pantheon remained in operation into the early 60s. It was demolished in 1962 and was replaced by a parking lot."

If Ahlschlager's name sounds familiar, it's because he designed a number of Uptown's most prominent buildings, including the Sheridan Plaza Hotel. Get a PDF download of some of his work here: Walter Ahlschlager.

Cradle Cruise Review

My grandfather, who lived in Uptown in the 1950s/1960s, wrote a book on his experiences during WWII. It recently received a very nice review on Amazon that I have to share:

Cradle Cruise: A Navy Bluejacket Remembers Life Aboard the USS Trever During World War II (Paperback)
Very well written memoir from an author who joined the pre-war navy to escape the difficult environment of depression era Chicago. After training he is assigned to the destroyer escort USS Trevor. Dawson's prose makes even his training, which is often times kind of dry in some memoirs, interesting and then he progresses to his experiences in Hawaii just before the attack on PH. After the war begins his destroyers spends time escorting troop transports and other convoys during the Guadalcanal campaign. Overall there is not a lot of combat in this book although there are several compelling passages such as the time his DE and another are chased by a larger Japanese naval force off New Georgia, surviving Typhoon Cobra and an action in which his DE attacks a Japanese submarine which took out one of the ships they are escorting at the time... What makes the book a strong buy is that the author, who has written a few other books, writes very well and concentrates his writing primarily on the more personal side of serving on a wartime escort. Many chapters deal with subjects such as the animosities between lifers and new boots, a cat who becomes ship mascot, and an incident when the crew who are bathing nude on the fantail are spotted and reported to higher authorities by well to do people who are cruising around in their yachts in a foreign port of call for example. There is very little "bigger picture" attention given here yet in this type of book and I really didn't mind. I personally like war memoirs in which the author spends the time to flesh out the characters and tell the smaller, less dramatic stories too. If your like me who reads naval books serially I would rate this a strong buy and one to put on your list! — M. Casale
Are you an Uptown author with a book you'd like to promote? Even if your book is not specifically about Uptown, we do periodically feature the work of local authors and artists. Drop us an e-mail at editor(a)

For books about Uptown, see the titles in the left sidebar.

September 14, 2010

Edgewater Beach Hotel Matchbook Holder and Ashtray

This is the first time I've come across this item: Edgewater Beach Hotel Ash Tray

I receive e-mails all the time from people who have Edgewater memorabilia to share or sell. If you have something you'd like others to know about, drop me and e-mail and be sure to include pictures.

September 13, 2010

Old Uptown Chicago Streets

Recent roadwork has revealed the old paved streets of Uptown. Find out where at Uptown Update.

September 11, 2010

Moving a Brick Two-Flat in Chicago, 1953

Okay, I admit this isn't Uptown, exactly, but the picture is so awesome I had to share. I live in a brick two-flat of similar vintage, and can't imagine trying to actually move it. Seriously.

Caption reads: The TV Set kept right on playing. Housekeeping went on as usual when their two-story brick apartment building was rolled down the street to a new location. A temporary oil stove was rigged up and an electric line tied into a neighbor's line box kept appliances going, TV Set included. House had to be moved to make way for a superhighway clover-leaf.

Available here: Moving a House

September 8, 2010

Perry and Greenleaf, Rogers Park, 1910

Purchase the original postcard, or view enlargments, here: Rogers Park

Santa Celebrates Christmas at the Edgewater Beach Hotel, Chicago

Santa and his reindeer hang out at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in this vintage advertising Christmas card

Sheridan North from Morse in Rogers Park

Sheridan Road, just north of Morse. Currently for sale at Sheridan and Morse, Rogers Park

I can't quite get the same angle on Google maps, as the Google car didn't scan part of Morse, but you can still see the residential building. Like so many multi units from this era, the front porch has been enclosed to create a three-season room. A funky gargoyle has also been added to the top.

September 7, 2010

Old Edgewater Post Office, Chicago, Illinois, 1908

I'm not sure where this was originally located--are there any readers who do?

Original postcard available for sale from here: Old Edgewater Post Office

Historic Black Ensemble Theater to Break Ground September 10

by Gregory Dale
AFRO Staff Writer

The historic Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago announced it will break ground on a new $16 million performance and cultural facility on Sept. 10. The new space will include a multitude of amenities and will finally provide an established place the theater company can call home.

“Owning anything is vital to the survival of the product,” Jackie Taylor, founder of the Black Theater Ensemble told the AFRO in a recent interview. “Black Ensemble Theater is an institution and in order to solidify that institution, you must own where you live or you’re putting the organization at risk. It’s vital that in building the Black Ensemble Theater in generations to come, we provide an asset that can be utilized. It’s vitally important...”

Read complete article here: Black Ensemble Theatre.

From Wikipedia: Black Ensemble Theater Company is a theater company that has performed at the Black Ensemble Theater in the Uptown community area of Chicago, Illinois. The company is known for productions related to African-American culture, especially musicals depicting notable African-American musicians and performers. The company is a significant contributor to Chicago's emergence as a Theater Town, and its theater has been selected as one of the 25 top major theaters in the country by the Encyclopedia Britannica Almanac.

The company has performed in the Black Ensemble Theater at 4520 N. Beacon St., but it is planning to relocate at the 4440 N. Clark Street, which is also in Uptown and which is more than twice as large. The new theater will be designed by Morris Architects Planners, who has previously designed Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, and Playhouse on the Square. The new 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) theater is being located in a former warehouse that cost US$3.5 million to purchase and many times more than that to renovate. Approximately $20 million is being raised to fund the construction of the new theater.

Among the recent productions are musicals celebrating Billie Holiday, Dionne Warwick, Teddy Pendergrass, and Stax Records. The current (as of September 2008) production I Am Who I Am (The Story of Teddy Pendergrass) that opened on March 15, 2008 has been extended through the end of 2008. The company has a history of presenting as many as a half dozen productions a year since opening in 1976. The theater's productions have been critically recognized. Some have had lengthy multiple-year runs and national tours such as The Jackie Wilson Story, which was the first traveling production of the Black Ensemble Touring Venture and which played for four weeks at the Apollo Theater. The theater company has also traveled nationally to perform to festivals.

The group's more than one hundred performances have been produced by its founder, Jackie Taylor, since 1976. When producing musical biographies, Taylor uses a formula of including at least eighteen of the artist's hits, some high points and low points in the artist's career, at least one climactic moment of chaos and an uplifting ending, which is the most important element.

1940s Cheesecake Matches, Sheridan Lounge, 5024 Sheridan Rd. Chicago

A pair of cheesecake matchbooks from the Sheridan Lounge, once located at 5024 Sheridan Road in Uptown.

What's there today? Big Chicks!

Get the matchbooks here: Matchbook One, Matchbook Two

Argyle Street, Little Indochina, 1987

Another great photo available on eBay. Here's the seller's description: REVITALIZED NEIGHBORHOOD Sammy Luk, owner of New Chinatown Hardware, and Phung Thai, owner of My. A. Market, left to right, talk on Argyle Street, which had become known as "Little Indochina." It's a thriving Southeast Asian neighborhood in Chicago." Reverse is also stamped "CHICAGO/LITTLE INDOCHINA" and "RECEIVED EXAMINER REFERENCE LIBRARY DEC 24 1987". Reverse also contains a newspaper clipping showing the photograph as it was originally published. The caption accompanying the clipping reads "Chicago merchants Sammy Luk, left, and Phung Thai".

September 6, 2010

Lion Dancers, Uptown Chicago, 2005

Lion Dancers, Uptown, Chicago, 2005. Photo by Henry Dombey/FACECOLLECTIVE and republished here with permission.

From Wikipedia. A lion dance is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture, in which performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume. The lion dance is often mistaken as a dragon dance. An easy way to tell the difference is that a lion is operated by two people, while a dragon needs many people. Also, in a lion dance, the performers' faces are covered, since they are inside the lion. In a dragon dance, the performers can be seen since the dragon is held upon poles. Basic lion dance fundamental movements can be found in most Chinese martial arts.

Lion Dance on Chinese New Year and Festivals

During the Chinese New Year, lion dancer troupes from the Chinese martial art schools or Chinese guild and associations will visit the houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform the traditional custom of "cai ching", literally means "plucking the greens", a quest by the lion to pluck and eat the auspicious greens, normally vegetables like lettuce, which in Chinese is called 'cái' and sounds like 'cái' (fortune), and auspicious fruit like oranges, tied to a "Red Envelope" containing money; they are either hung highly or put on a table in front of the premises. The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the business and the troupe is rewarded with the "red envelope".

The lion dance is sometimes performed at other traditional, cultural and religious festivals, business opening events, birthday celebrations, and wedding ceremonies.

In the old days, the lettuce was hung 15 to 20 feet above ground and only a well-trained martial artist could reach the money while dancing with a heavy lion head. These events became a public challenge. A large sum of money was rewarded, and the audience expected a good show. Sometimes, if lions from multiple martial arts schools approached the lettuce at the same time, the lions are supposed to fight to decide a winner. The lions had to fight with stylistic lion moves instead of chaotic street fighting styles. The audience would judge the quality of the martial art schools according to how the lions fought. Since the schools' reputation was at stake, the fights were usually fierce but civilized. The winning lion would then use creative methods and martial art skills to reach the high-hanging reward.

Some lions may dance on bamboo stilts and some may step on human pyramids formed by fellow students of the school. The performers and the schools would gain praise and respect on top of the large monetary reward when they did well. Nowadays, performances to attain the red envelope are not as rigorous, but lion dance troupes still have the onus of making a good show or face the consequence of an unhappy client.

During the 1950s-60s, in some areas with high population of Chinese and Asian communities, especially the Chinatown in many foreign countries around in the world, people who joined lion dance troupes were “gangster-like” and there was a lot of fighting amongst lion dance troupes and kung fu schools. Parents were afraid to let their children join lion dance troupes because of the “gangster” association with the members. During festivals and performances, when lion dance troupes met, there would be fights between groups. Some lifts and acrobatic tricks are designed for the lion to “fight” and knock over other rival lions. Performers even hid daggers in their shoes and clothes, which could be used to injure other lion dancers’ legs, or even attached a metal horn on their lion’s forehead, which could be used to slash other lion heads. The violence got so extreme that at one point, the Hong Kong government had to put a stop to lion dances completely.

Now, as with many other countries, lion dance troupes must attain a permit from the government in order to perform lion dance. Although there is still a certain degree of competitiveness, troupes are a lot less violent and aggressive. Today, lion dance is a more sport-oriented activity. Lion dance is more for recreation than a way of living. But there are still plenty of troupes who still practice the traditional ways and taboos of the lion dance as it is practiced in the past.

Barney Balaban -- A Face Behind the Uptown Theatre

Barney Balaban (June 8, 1887 – March 7, 1971) was president of Paramount Pictures from 1936 to 1964, and innovator in the cinema industry. Uptown residents may recognize his name from the famous Balaban and Katz company, which built the Uptown Theatre.

The eldest of the seven sons of grocery store owner Israel Balaban, Barney worked as a messenger boy and a cold storage company employee until 1908, when he was persuaded, at age 21, to go into the cinema business. According to a 1945 article in Forbes magazine, his mother came home from her first picture show and commented, "The customers pay before they even see what they're paying for! There'll be money in that business."

Balaban and his younger brothers rented the 100-seat Kedzie Theater. From there, Balaban's innovations changed the industry. In 1910, Balaban built the Circle Theatre, the first cinema to have a balcony. His sister Ida married Sam Katz, the two in-laws made plans for a chain of cinemas in the Midwest, the Balaban and Katz Theatre Chain. Barney's Brothers, John, Dave, Abe, and Max, all worked for Balaban and Katz. Brothers Elmer and Harry owned their own theater concern, called H & E Balaban.

The first link in the chain, the Central park Theatre in Chicago, opened in 1917. Balaban and Katz set about to create the first air-conditioned movie theater. Their first theater cooling system combined a large fan blowing over cakes of ice in a washtub. Not only was the system noisy, it occasionally blew a shower of water onto the patrons. Balaban enlisted the aid of an engineer friend to create a workable system, and crowds began to go to the movies to escape the heat during the summer months, making motion picture exhibition a year-round business.

A controlling interest of Balaban & Katz was purchased in 1926 by Famous-Players-Lasky Corp. in exchange for thirteen million dollars in stock. On July 2, 1936, Paramount's directors elected Balaban as president of the studio. As president, Balaban had the philosophy that Paramount had a responsibility "to explain America, its customs, and its people, to the world".

Balaban, the son of Russian emigrants who had lived the American Dream, purchased one of the 14 original copies of the Bill of Rights from A.S.W. Rosenbach and, in 1945, donated it to the Library of Congress "as an expression of gratitude for the freedom his parents found in this country".

Balaban continued as president of Paramount Pictures until 1964

This great image, where he is pictured with his wife and daughter, is currently for sale on eBay: Barney Balaban and Family

Text edited from Wikipedia.


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