Peoples Theater

1620 W. 47th Street,
Chicago, IL 60609

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DavidZornig on August 10, 2015 at 9:09 am

1961 photo added courtesy of Gregory Russell.

Christie47 on May 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Grew up going to People’s every Saturday morning in the winter for 50 cents. 25 cents to get in, dime soda and 15 cents for popcorn. Miss it a lot

RiisPark on March 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Looks like it had a very nice interior. Sad that it’s gone.

LouisRugani on April 26, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I toured the PEOPLES Theatre (and coincidentally the nearby COLONY Theatre) in the 1980s with an organized tour group. There had been some changes to the lobby some decades past but the auditorium was mostly intact. On Monday, January 13, 2003 the Chicago Tribune did a series titled “Research and Destroy – A Squandered Heritage, Part 1: The Threat to Neighborhoods” by Blair Kamin and Patrick T. Reardon where a huge color photo of the under-demolition PEOPLES made the article’s point very clearly. Part of the article read “Go to the former sites of buildings that served as icons of neighborhood commercial districts — the Woodfield and Old Orchard shopping centers of their day.

Among them: a 1920s Back of the Yards movie house designed by Rapp & Rapp, the architects of the Chicago Theatre, at 1616-24 W. 47th St. Called the Peoples Theater and distinctive for its Art Moderne and Classical details, it was a smaller version of the more elaborate downtown movie palace, featuring a whimsical, triple-arched facade that formed a gateway to the fantasy world inside. It was destroyed in 2001. A Walgreens is rising on the site."

TLSLOEWS on February 25, 2010 at 9:56 am

Too bad the Peoples Theatre is gone.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on February 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm

That makes sense. Back then I guess it would’ve been more difficult to get movies on video. So they could make money booking old favorites.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on February 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

It IS the correct year. BEST DEFENSE was a 1984 comedy starring Dudley Moore and Eddie Murphy. Back in the good old days, neighborhood theatres would do stuff like that. They would play a current film doubled up with an older film, usually from the same studio. Both BEST DEFENSE and THE WARRIORS are from Paramount. Back in 1982, I worked at the Village Theatre. One Paramount double feature we had was SOME KIND OF HERO (1982) and THE WARRIORS (1979). Unfortunately, this sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on February 8, 2010 at 12:37 pm

1984 doesn’t sound like the right year for “The Warriors”.

DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Great pic. It’s a shame it survived 70 years, and came down so recently. Current economic conditions can’t possibly help to save a lot of these places that may still exist.
Years of no heat, who knows how much asbestos, etc. just takes the fight out of most of them.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on February 3, 2009 at 12:59 pm

1972 picture of the Peoples Theatre in this movie at marker count 7:52 –

View link

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on February 3, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Someone actually put a video of the demolition on YouTube. Imagine that:

DavidZornig on November 30, 2008 at 7:37 pm

Ah. I knew it looked as if it had long ago been a functioning theatre of some type when I was there.
Saw a stage version of “Pulp Fiction” there if you can imagine. Maybe 2001 or so.

I’ll assume the People’s Temple is not listed on CT, having never been a public use movie theatre.

Broan on November 30, 2008 at 7:32 pm

The Peoples Temple was also designed by prominent theater architect JEO Pridmore.

DavidZornig on November 30, 2008 at 7:28 pm

There is also a People’s Church on Lawrence Avenue just East of Sheridan Road.
It is a huge classic building with a large theatre inside. Never showed films to my knowledge. But did have a recent showing with survivors of the Guyanna tragedy/30th anniversary.

Broan on June 17, 2006 at 8:52 am

Here is a profile from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s HAARGIS system.

CHICTH74 on June 11, 2006 at 6:22 pm

If this is the one that i think it is i an sad to report that it has ben replaced with of all things a Walgreens Pharmacy between the main part of the store and the parking lot it takes up the whole corner.

Broan on April 14, 2006 at 5:01 am

Here is an architects' perspective of the building, and here is a photo

xxx on October 29, 2005 at 2:07 pm

Rapp & Rapp duplicated Chicago’s PEOPLES lobbies and auditorium when they created Tulsa’s (1922-1965) AKDAR Theater.

jswist on October 9, 2005 at 7:42 pm

Everything in the Town of Lake/Back of the Yards neighborhood was by and for the People. So, having a theatre named Peoples seems appropriate. This neighborhood was the setting of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.
During the 60’s saw many movies at the Peoples theatre, especially lots of B sci-fi movies, like the Giant Gila Monster. If you were in the summer park program at Davis Square Park, it seemed like we were at the movies weekly. As a kid, the ceiling looked like a huge pancake! And when rock groups were making movies in the 60’s they made appearances at the theatres – saw Sonny & Cher and the Dave Clark Five.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 15, 2005 at 10:08 am

At the end of it’s life, the Peoples was used by two different stores: one built into the lobby, another built into the auditorium. You entered the later by going through a fire door at the end of the cross-lobby, and taking a left through the aisle doors. The arch was cemented up, and I think there might have been a third business on the stage. The auditorium still had it’s 1919 design, although it was all painted light blue. So any Art Moderne remodeling must have taken place in the lobby (which couldn’t be viewed above the store’s false ceiling). I saw all of this around 1990.

John P Keating Jr
John P Keating Jr on April 25, 2004 at 5:25 am

The land has been cleared and is now a new Walgreen store.