The end of Chicago's majestic rat-ridden movie palace



Great article…Love to read the history of Chicago. At the end of the article though, you’re incorrect. Chicago & Randolph don’t intersect. The Woods Theater was located on Dearborn & Randolph. Just across the street southeast was the United Artists Theater, which was also demolished in 1989.

I think I saw Star Wars in that theater in its first run. It was certainly one of those glorious old Loop theaters. I remember coming out of it in a daze.

Now I regret never having gone to a movie in one of those big downtown Chicago movie theaters; I moved to the city when I was thirteen, and I think that I always subconsciously associated “big city downtown movie theater” with “Times Square porno theater”, although AFAIK there was never one of those in the Loop proper (although there is apparently still a gay porn theater in Old Town, the Bijou). I did see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Biograph, so there’s that.

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It was at Dearborn and Randolph; Chicago Ave. parallels Randolph St. about a mile north.

edit: jsmith and I are clearly kindred spirits!

My personal favorite was the Sandburg Theatre at Dearborn and Division (what was known as the Rush Street area): there was a Viennese-style cafe across the street, so we used to go in a group, order a box full of pastries from their bakery counter, and watch foreign art films while eating much finer treats than any theater has ever offered its patrons.


A great rememberance. I used to love Chicago movie houses. Though Mitch is skipping over the chunk of history when the Woods used to be a porn palace. (Yes children, once upon a time you had to venture out of your house to find porn.)

But…The East West corner of Chicago and Randolph? That’s just sloppy. What’s an “East West corner”? And as others have said, Chicago and Randolph run parallel. I believe the Woods was at the northwest corner of Dearborn and Randolph.

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this community of Chicago theaters were the theaters that spawned pic related, right?

I’m glad I was the right age to experience films this way, though not in Chicago. Many fond memories of going to various movie theaters over the years.

In a non-fiction essay, Pinkwater referred to the grindhouse he attended as the “Clark.” Presumeably its real name.

:thumbsup: yep, Chicago Loop:

Great post! I’m pretty sure that this movie palace is also visible at one point in The Blues Brothers film, at least my memory seems to think so.

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