Comments from TRAINPHOTOS

Showing 1 - 25 of 50 comments

TRAINPHOTOS commented about State-Lake Theatre on Aug 26, 2005 at 11:03 am

Even better is, if you look between the middle and last streetlight, you’ll see a sign for WCFL. Ah, the days when ‘CFL and WLS battled it out for AM rock supremacy!

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Uptown Theatre on Aug 22, 2005 at 3:07 pm

I’ve been reading the posts on the Uptown and I’m really wondering whether or not restoring this old theatre would be economically viable. Don’t get me wrong. I love old theatres. I have memories of this place too! But I’m for restoration where it makes economic sense. The following is an excerpt from one of my posts on the DuPage Theatre and it asks the big “ifs”.

1) IF the building isn’t in such disrepair that restoring it becomes unfeasible.
2) IF the project can gain enough finanical support, be it public, private, or some combination thereof.
3) IF the theatre, once restored, can generate enough bookings (be they concerts, plays, films) so that the place doesn’t sit empty most of the time.
4) IF the theatre can generate enough revenue from these various events that it isn’t swimming in red ink (a friend of mine, who once worked for a museum said “The funny thing about non-profits is that they still have to earn a profit!”)

I’m sure I’m missing many more.

The big question I have here is who (and what) would play here?

1) If you’re an act that usually plays at the clubs (Counting Crows, Wallflowers, Carbon Leaf), you’ll play at House Of Blues, Riveria, or the Aragon.

2) If you’re an act that usually plays at the theatres (Sheryl Crow, Wilco), you’ll play at the Rosemont Theatre, Chicago Theatre, Auditorium, etc.

3) If you’re an act that plays the arenas, then you’ll play at The United Center or the Allstate Arena.

4) Broadway plays can go to the Auditorium, the Oriental, the Cadillac Palace, The Schubert. One person mentioned that the stage door empties out onto Lawrence Avenue and there would be no place to park the huge semi trucks that these shows require.

Next is the parking issue. It’s bad enough normally in this area. It’s worse when the Aragon or the Riviera (or heaven forbid, both) have a show. I lived in this area for a year and many’s the night I had to park over a mile away.

We’ve all heard how there is going to be a new multi-plex in the area. It will be on the site of the old CTA Wilson Yards and I think Wilson Yards may be the name of the new place. Here is where an opportunity may have been missed. What should have been done was to demolish the theatre part of the Uptown. The foyer and facade on Broadway Avenue would be retained. Then a huge parking deck could be built (and no, it would not have to be ugly) with the new multi-plex theatre above it. The patrons could reach the auditoriums from the retained and refurbished foyer via escalators, ala the 600 North Michigan Theatre. Or, the parking deck could be below ground and the new cinemas on top.

Yes, the Green Mill would be retained in this scheme. In case you were wondering!

TRAINPHOTOS commented about DuPage Theater on Aug 22, 2005 at 1:12 pm


As I noted above, the idea of constructing a library and using the facade of the old theatre is an intriguing one. The marquee could be retained and used for community announcements. A small auditorium, which could be used for showing classic films (yes “films” not “videos”), could be incorporated into the design of the new library. Another room could have historical exhibits and photographs of other movie palaces. If one “thinks outside the box”, the possibilities are endless.

I finally saw this theatre from the METRA Union Pacific West Line yesterday. I saw how run down it looks and I saw the safety fencing around it. I always wondered why someone like Classic Cinemas never jumped at the chance to own the DuPage. Other cities along the same METRA line have cinemas that are doing well (The York in Elmhurst; the Glen Art in Glen Ellyn; the Lake in Oak Park). Why hasn’t Lombard made a go of the DuPage (before it became too rundown?

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Drake Theatre on Aug 15, 2005 at 3:06 pm

Correction to the above. My Dad said that another theatre had this feature. One entered the Drake facing the screen, as in most theatres. However, the Drake was in an “L” pattern with the foyer fronting Montrose Avenue and the auditorium was behind the bowling alley. This accounts for the unusual gap between the bowling alley and the city’s alley.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about AMC Norridge 6 on Aug 13, 2005 at 5:40 pm

Yes, the Axle did have an organist.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about DuPage Theater on Aug 13, 2005 at 5:38 pm

Y'know, that’s a great idea.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about AMC Norridge 6 on Aug 8, 2005 at 12:51 pm

This theatre was originally owned by M&R. M&R also, at one time or another, owned the Lawrencewood, the Old Orchard, the Portage Park, and a few others. M&R also owned the Hub Roller Rink, which was next door to the Norridge. Later on, the Hub was called the Axle—but still owned by M&R. M&R also had an Axle Roller Rink in Niles, near the Golf Mill Theatres. Both roller rinks closed circa 1983, I beleive.

Later on, M&R was bought by Sony-Loew’s and the Norridge had the Sony Theatres logo on it.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Loews 20 North Versailles on Aug 4, 2005 at 5:58 pm

Any word on what has happened to this theatre recently, or to the land it sits on? Is it sitting vacant, or has it been demolished?

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Mercury Theater on Aug 4, 2005 at 1:58 pm

Brian and Bryan:

Thank you for posting that Tribune Article. It is interesting to see how Cineplex-Odeous (I mean Odeon)proposed and constructed all of these theatres. I did a little research and found out what happened to these. All of them opened (or were proposed) circa 1987-1989

1) Burnham Plaza—To be closed 9-2005
2) Rivertree Court—Now operated by Keresotas
3) Orland Square—closed
4) Lincolnwood—probably the newer section of Lincoln Village, which is operated by Loews-Cineplex.
5) Ridge Plaza—closed
6) Grove—closed and demolished
7) Oakbrook Plaza—closed
8) One Schaumburg Place—replaced by Streets of Woodfield.
9) Old Orchard—most likely the present Gardens at Old Orchard.
10) Renovation of the McClurg Court—closed.
11) Renovation of the Chestnut Station—closed.
12) Renovation of the Golf Glen—now operated by Village.
13) Renovation of the Esquire—done.
14) Renovation of the Town and Country—demolished.
15) Replacement of the Mercury—never done.
16) Bricktown—closed. This could have been the replacement for the Mercury.

It is truely amazing how many of these theatres didn’t last. What killed these nearly new and newly renovated places to close?

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Regal Webster Place 11 on Aug 3, 2005 at 3:34 pm

They don’t seem to use fresh popcorn here. Apparently, it is popped elsewhere and placed in warmers. Also the movie choices here seem to be a little pedestrian.

Still, it’s a good place to see the latest blockbuster.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about DuPage Theater on Aug 3, 2005 at 2:37 pm

Well, I really think I opened up a whole ‘nuther can-o-worms here! It is funny how I and some others have mentioned the petty bickering that has gone on the DuPage’s page here. Yet here we see more of it.

As I said above, I’ve never been to the DuPage. So I can remain neutral on the issue. But the reason I mentioned all of the “ifs” above is because there have been many instances where millions have been spent, there are huge cost-overruns, a building gets restored (this is not just limited to theatres), and soon falls into financial distress for many reasons. And it ends up being a white elephant.

I wouldn’t want to see the DuPage demolished either, but the “ifs” I preseneted above are the tough questions which must be asked before taking on such a task, no matter what the size of the property is being restored. And if I lived in Lombard, I certainly wouldn’t mind public/private or public money being used IF the “ifs” are met.

I think LIFE’S TOO SHORT said it best on his December 4, 2004 post above. LIFE’S TOO SHORT, may I quote you here? “But you need a solid plan from start to finish…how to fund the project, intelligent management plan after the job is done. These places don’t thrive nowadays without a lot of effort. If proper reuse does not materialize, these buildings decay.”

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Arlington Theatre on Aug 2, 2005 at 12:37 pm

Which chain owns/operates the present Arlington?

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Coronet Theatre on Aug 1, 2005 at 4:15 pm

The Coronet was, at one point I believe, operated by Plitt. Sometime during the late 1970s or early 1980s, the Coronet began to show “X” rated films—and saw a substantial increase in patronage! That is, until those movies became available on home video.

I lived in Rogers Park (a neighborhood in Chicago just to the south of Evanston) from 1996-1999 and again from 2001-2003. During the late 1990s, I remember the buzz on how the Coronet was to have become the new concert venue. But, of course, it was not to be.

I do know that the Coronet was about the last theatre in Chicago to retain “Balaban & Katz” on its marquee. But can anybody tell me whether or not this theatre was a Plitt? Or an Essaness? And can someone tell me if Essaness and ABC all became part of Plitt?

TRAINPHOTOS commented about DuPage Theater on Jul 31, 2005 at 9:02 am


I’m reminded of two fine examples of preservation and re-use, although they are not cinemas. The Chicago Transit Authority sold two of its “L” stations which were obsolete. The Skokie/Dempster Station was moved 100 feet east and made into a Starbucks. Yes, a Starbucks! So now people can grab their coffee before they get on the “L”! The other was the Linden Station, which was converted into a branch bank. So people could do their banking before or after they rode the “L”.

Both are fine examples of “Prairie School” archeitecture. Both met all of the “IFs” I mentioned above. Both are examples of preservation and “adatpive re-use” where it makes sense!

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Studio Movie Grill Wheaton on Jul 31, 2005 at 5:50 am

The Rice Lake Square is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the cinema industry these days. Too many “big box” theatres were built and then supplanted by “even bigger box” cinemas. Sort of like the “big box” stores (anybody remember Builders Square?).

I did a spreadsheet on Chicagoland theatres that have closed since 1999 and it is amazing how many of these “big boxes” are on the list—cinemas that were about a decade old or less. The spreadsheet includes Rice Lake Square, Bricktown, Casino, Streamwood, etc. All were built in the late 1980s-early 1990s and all are closed.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about DuPage Theater on Jul 31, 2005 at 4:43 am

By the way, I am not anti-preservation. I am very much for preservation if it is viable and if it makes sense. Even the great Chicago Theatre sits empty most of the time. Whereas the Tivoli in Downers Grove seems to have been successful (and has an owner with deep pockets).

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Lyric Theatre on Jul 30, 2005 at 6:51 pm

When it was the Lyric, I believe that it was owned by Plitt Theatres. I also believe that this theatre was an early “brew-n-view” as they were one of the first in the Chicagoland Area to serve beer and wine.

“Edutainment Center?” What a lousy name. That’s almost as bad as the “Loftominiums” that opened up across the street from me

TRAINPHOTOS commented about DuPage Theater on Jul 30, 2005 at 6:46 pm

I’ve been following the posts on the DuPage Theatre for quite some time now. I firmly believe that the comments section should be for memories, insights, corrections, etc. It amazes me how much sniping has gone on among the people posting comments on the DuPage. And that’s exactly how many restoration projects stall: bickering, the inability to agree.

I’ve never been to the DuPage, having only seen it from the outside. So I can remain neutral on the issue of the DuPage. I believe that we should be on this website because we love movies and movie theatres, new and old. We all have some favorite memory of movie theatres. Even the mall multi-plex can have a special place for us.

But, in a larger sense, we must remember that not everything can or should be saved. A theatre like the DuPage can be saved IF the following “IFs” are met:

1) IF the building isn’t in such disrepair that restoring it becomes unfeasible.
2) IF the project can gain enough finanical support, be it public, private, or some combination thereof.
3) IF the theatre, once restored, can generate enough bookings (be they concerts, plays, films) so that the place doesn’t sit empty most of the time.
4) IF the theatre can generate enough revenue from these various events that it isn’t swimming in red ink (a friend of mine, who once worked for a museum said “The funny thing about non-profits is that they still have to earn a profit!”

I’m sure I’m missing many more. But the point is that it is very difficult to run a single-screen small theatre these days. I always loved the Patio Theatre (which I lived near). But the sad reality is that that theatre has been closed since 2001 and I’ve accepted that it may never show movies again. The same is true for the DuPage. I certainly would not wish demolition on the DuPage, or any other old theare. And I certainly don’t want to see more condos. But if it can’t be renovated and placed on solid economic footing,
or put into a clever adaptive re-use (a theatre in Quincy, IL was converted into a banquet hall that was sympathetic to the building and has been a rousing success), then what is the reality here?

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Burnham Plaza Cinemas on Jul 28, 2005 at 5:41 pm

I went here to see CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY today. The guy working at the concession stand says it will close Labor Day Weekend, 2005. There were only about 8 people in the auditorium.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Barrington Square Theaters on Jul 26, 2005 at 5:44 pm

This and the Ogden 6, which is still open, were the Chicagoland Area’s first 6-screen multiplexes. They were also AMC’s first inroads into the area. I once dated someone from this area and we would stop at Garibaldi’s, which was in the same mall.

Sometime during the 1980s, this theatre showed a mix of first and second run films. The admission charge for the first run films was cheaper than what Plitt/Cineplex-Odious (I mean Cineplex-Odeon) charged.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Morton Grove Theatre on Jul 25, 2005 at 9:16 am

Correction: Per another post, the Harlem Corners has been closed, leaving only the Buffalo Grove operated by Value.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Morton Grove Theatre on Jul 25, 2005 at 9:10 am

Towards the end, this theatre was operated by Value Theatres, which apparantly was trying to make inroads into the Chicagoland Area. Value had a few theatres going, now only the Buffalo Grove and the Harlem Corners remain.

This theatre may have also tried to do first run showings towards the end too, but I can’t confirm this. I can’t understand why this place closed (perhaps the owners received a good offer to sell?). It always drew a good crowd.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Cine Lounge at Niles on Jul 25, 2005 at 9:04 am

It is interesting that of all the theatres that were once in the Morton Grove/Niles area, only this one remains.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about AMC Dine-In 600 North Michigan 9 on Jul 24, 2005 at 6:37 pm

Per Chitown Guy’s last post, theatre one is probably the best here. The auditorium is not as shallow, nor as wide.

I go to this theatre very frequently as I live close by. Every Thursday night they have free movies as part of the Loew’s Fan Favorite series. Usually the films will be anywhere from 1 to 15 years old and recent offerings have included SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, THE PATRIOT, INDEPENDENCE DAY, TWISTER, LA CONFIDENTIAL, and DONNIE DARKO (which was about the worst movie I’ve ever seen).

The 600 North has also added a bar, which is open on weekends.

TRAINPHOTOS commented about Bricktown Square Cinema on Jul 8, 2005 at 5:49 am

Per Jayne’s comment above, the Brickyard Mall went under because Penney’s, K-Mart, and Wards all closed within a matter of months of each other. No mall can withstand the loss of all three of its anchors. The Jewel Food Store survived, however, and a new shopping center was built with “big box” stores like Target.

I saw “Internal Affairs”, “Born on the Fourth Of July”, and “Parenthood” here. When this place opened up, it seemed like THE place to see movies. Advance ticketing. Acceptance of credit cards. But like the Burnham Plaza Theatre, which opened at about the same time (and is scheduled to close), it became an example of how NOT to run a theatre.