Sunday, February 3, 2013

Uptown Theater: Lady In Waiting

copyright Eric Holubow
In 2012, UU ran a photo taken by Eric Holubow of the interior of the Uptown Theater, as part of his photo exhibit at the Cultural Center.  It was breathtaking, a reminder of what the dignified old theater could be.

Mr. Holubow took more photos that day, and some of them are shown in February's Chicago Magazine, accompanying an article by Roger Ebert about Chicago's once-grand movie palaces.

We recommend you take a look at the Holubow photo slide show.  There've been a lot of promises and hopes attached to restoring the theater, ever since it closed its doors in the 1980s.  Sometimes it seems an impossible fantasy, other times we think it may just happen.  Time will tell, but we remain hopeful.

The photos by Eric Holubow are here.  Enjoy.


  1. white elephant. Time to raze this and move on.

  2. I am crossing my fingers that this gets restored, just for the satisfaction of seeing Alek cross it off his list of 10,001 Things To Be Negative About In Uptown.

    Honest to God, it's getting into the realm of performance art.

  3. Alek, interesting suggestion. I can't help but ask you if you would be disappointed if the Uptown Theatre got restored?

  4. There isn't even demand for the neglected theaters we already have...who/what is going to use this prohibitively expensive venue? There is a reason there have been no real movement on this front beyond lip's a financial non-starter.

    @holy moley...I won't be disappointed as long as a private entity foots the bill but it's going to need to be a 100% philanthropic move because the numbers don't makes sense from a business point of view.

    Of course another TIF boondoggle is always possible.

  5. You are aware, Alex, that a TIF exists for the purpose of restoring the Lawrence Broadway area, and has been collecting and allocating funds since 2001?

    You can thank its existence for the fact that Goldblatt's isn't still there, boarded up and rusting. That Fat Cat, Lao Sze Chuan, and Annoyance Theater are here, instead of a long-empty former furniture store. That the Uptown Broadway Building has been beautifully rehabbed instead of falling to pieces, home to fortune tellers and gangs. That Agami and the health club are here, and that people live above them, and in the Gunnison Lofts. That Borders was here before the chain went out of business.

    Yes, please, I'll take more TIF "boondoggles" like that!

    As far as there not being a demand for the theaters we have... poppycock! If you ever tried to park on my former block on a concert night, you'd know how wrong you are. Try driving through Lawrence and Broadway when there's a show at either the Aragon or the Riv, or both, and see how neglected the theaters are.

    Good things really are happening. I don't know how long you've lived here, but that area is much, much improved since the 1980s and 1990s.

  6. Does anyone know if they are planning any tours in the near future? Or do they run them now? I'm guessing the building isn't quite up to code, but it would be awesome.

  7. Alek, yes, "There is a reason there have been no real movement on this front..." that's only why JAM Productions bought the venue. If you want to call this lip service, go for it, but they're a for profit business, and they wouldn't have bought the venue if the didn't think they could make the financials work. I'd love to see it fully restored, but it'll probably be restored just enough to open and end up looking and functioning like the Congress Theater.

    As for tours, I heard that its not up to code on many fronts, hence why the public isn't allowed in. I keep loving the idea of restoring the lobby and opening that for tours, rentals, anything to start some cashflow. I'd pay to see even just that.

  8. @brianbobcat....JAM is land banking...just like FLATS is land banking. How long have you all lived in Chicago? This couldn't be more obvious. The Uptown will remain shuttered until JAM can get the tax payers to pay for its restoration and make quick buck. Commentors on this blog used to be able to spot this kind of thing...

  9. Watch out, "Alek," your true identity is starting to peek out. You're quickly slipping from curmudgeon into Uptown's Obsessive.

  10. Has anyone/entity ever seriously studied possibilities for adaptive reuse for Uptown Theater? It's dual positional orientation (Magnolia/Broadway) seems to lend itself to reuse ideas that might make the whole enterprise more sustainable: housing or other 'quieter' functions to west with theater/public functions on Broadway to east.