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Jazz Age Chicago
July 11, 2011 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Scott Newman's Jazz Age Chicago is a guide to every major movie theater, department store, sporting arena, amusement park, grand hotel and dance hall that operated in the Windy City during the 1920s.
posted by Iridic (13 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting. It could use more pictures, though. I clicked on a dozen pages, and got nothing but text.
posted by crunchland at 3:03 PM on July 11, 2011


I used to work in Chicago, in a department store...
posted by dhens at 3:27 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I worked for many years (at different times as a bouncer, bartender, stagehand, and projectionist) at what was once called the Victoria Theatre, now just called the Vic Theatre. Built in 1912, it was a popular Vaudeville venue for many years. After that, it was primarily a movie theater, then closed, then the first floor seats removed and became a car dealership for a few years, then closed again, then opened as a porno theater, then closed, then in the 1980's became 'Clubland' for several years, closed again, and finally opened up in it's present incarnation as the Vic Theatre in the late 80s early 90s, switching between musical and comedy acts and the 'Brew and View', having until very recently, the largest movie screen in Chicago.

When it was restored, as with many classic Chicago buildings, the copper molds for all the ornate plaster cherubim, cornices, and medallions were still on file with the original design company, also based in Chicago. That company, whose name escapes me, has molds and designs for the plasterwork ornamentation that was put into most buildings in Chicago since the 1880s.

The original marble staircases and the fresco painting in the mezzanine of Columbus arriving in America are all still there. It's surprising, for all the insanity from all the concerts and fights and drunkenness over the years, it still cleans up very well.
posted by chambers at 3:31 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


21st century, how you've spoiled me...
Can we get an LA Noire version of this instead? :p

On a more critical note, the writing and presentation are a bit strange. It reads like a point-by-point, anachronistic tourist guide. Something like: It seems like the author of the site is stuck between creating a Historical Guide for the Chicago Tourist and a History of Chicago.

As it stands, it would work way better as a personal wiki, rather than its current format. His collection of Research Links is pretty extensive, though!
posted by lemuring at 3:56 PM on July 11, 2011


What? No Metro?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:18 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


. It reads like a point-by-point, anachronistic tourist guide.

You know the single greatest resource I had in writing a little Edwardian tri-state area thing was a 1910 tourist guide/encyclopedia of NYC heavy enough to kill a rat with.
posted by The Whelk at 5:14 PM on July 11, 2011


To add a bit to my trivia about "The Vic," there are two old tunnels that run from the lower levels of the Vic under Sheffield St. I have heard one was originally used for ice storage and leads to a large room under the street, and the other steam pipes, but they also seem to lead right across the street to where the old Merry Garden Ballroom once stood.

Oh, here's an old picture I took in about 1998 that shows part of the fresco painting in the Mezzanine I spoke of earlier. Also, for some reason I took a rather uninteresting picture of the tile, perhaps as a starting point for a desktop pattern I was planning.

Interior
pics from the Vic's website.
posted by chambers at 7:03 PM on July 11, 2011


Going off on a slight tangent, my mother's stepfather was the nephew of the man who made Sears a success.
posted by brujita at 10:04 PM on July 11, 2011


Loving jazz in general, as well as a bit of a San Francisco geek myself, I do appreciate other civic-minded geeks, especially those who appreciate their musical lineage in a city as great as Chicago. I might argue that while New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, Chicago is where jazz as we think of it today was born. It's all fantastic music, though.
posted by smirkette at 10:14 PM on July 11, 2011


I might argue that while New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, Chicago is where jazz as we think of it today was born.

That's not... um, exactly true. Now, this would be true:

"I might argue that while Mississippi is the birthplace of blues, Chicago is where blues as we think of it today was born."

That would be true.

But if we're really talking jazz here, you'd have to say this:

I might argue that while New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, New York is where jazz as we think of it today was born.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:08 AM on July 12, 2011


...while New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, New York is where jazz as we think of it today was born...

...and Chicago, where Armstrong, Morton, Hines and Beiderbecke attained to mastery, and Goodman, Krupa, A. Ammons and Cole learned to play, was at the very least a wholly necessary step between the two.
posted by Iridic at 7:31 AM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good points, Iridic, good points.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:35 AM on July 12, 2011


That company, whose name escapes me, has molds and designs for the plasterwork ornamentation that was put into most buildings in Chicago since the 1880s.

You may be thinking of Decorator's Supply in Bridgeport. A neighborhood blog posted an interview with the company president/some pictures of their facility and work last year right here.

According to another post on that blog (this one), Decorator's Supply also worked on the disused Ramova Theater, apparently a sister to the Music Box.
posted by treefort at 11:52 AM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


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