Will the Uptown Theatre ever be restored?
By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_
Preservationists are upping efforts to restore the Uptown Theatre after it closed more than 40 years ago.
Opened in 1925, the beloved theater first hosted silent movies, musicals, and even TV show tapings before becoming a concert venue in the ‘70s, where performers like Bruce Springsteen and the Grateful Dead played, according to the Chicago Architecture Center.
The Uptown closed its doors after a flood damaged the venue in December 1981, and restoration efforts have been in the works since, WBEZ reported.
The most-recent $75 million plan by the Uptown’s owner Jerry Mickelson, head of mega music bookers Jam Productions; developers; and the city in 2018 fell through, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Andy Pierce, Friend of the Uptown founder, has been involved with the 4,300-seat venue’s restoration efforts.
In a Chicago Tribune op-ed last month, he wrote that many of the theater’s patrons have died and today’s advocates don’t have the same strong emotional ties to the Uptown.
“Now at 50, I also wonder if I will live to see it restored,” he wrote.
It’s not all grim: Pierce stressed the theater’s entertainment potential in a post-pandemic economy, especially given its three lobbies and auditorium.
But there is a time crunch: The TIF expires in 2025, which would also be the Uptown’s centennial, he told WGN this week.
🎧 Listen to entrepreneur Jerald Gary tell City Cast about the restored Avalon Regal Theater in South Shore.
WBEZ and Vocalo’s Ayana Contreras has been bringing soul music to the airwaves with her show “Reclaimed Soul” and diving into the stories behind the songs for a while.
Now, she’s out with a new book, “Energy Never Dies: Afro-Optimism and Creativity in Chicago,” exploring the lasting impact of Chicago’s Black artists and entrepreneurs in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.
🎧 Listen to Contreras tell us about the cultural contributions of Ebony, Jet, “Soul Train,” and Afro Sheen, and why she believes in Afro-optimism.
▪️ Mayor Lori Lightfoot has tested positive for COVID-19. She says she’s working remotely. [Lori Lightfoot]
▪️ Traffic cameras in the city disproportionately target Black and Latinx drivers. [ProPublica Midwest]
▪️ Howl at the Moon in River North has been cited for violating the city’s vaccine mandate. [ABC7]
▪️ Calling all Gen Xers! Help out the Illinois State Museum with its upcoming “Forgotten Generation” exhibit, and fill out this survey.
▪️ Need more than 60 seconds with TikTok historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas? Lucky for you, he’s working on a Netflix show with “Chicago Party Aunt” creator Chris Witaske. [Block Club Chicago]
▪️ Speaking of Netflix, Kanye’s three-part “jeen-yuhs” documentary is coming to the streaming service next month.
+ TODAY: Clean-ups in Hyde Park, Andersonville
Trim trees at Promontory Point and Winnemac Park from 9 a.m. to noon.
+ SATURDAY: Hot Dog Box opens in Portage Park
Check out the fam’s first brick-and-mortar store this weekend 🌭
✨ HIDDEN GEMS
Thanks to the readers that put the Edgar Miller Glasner Studio on our radar!
Constructed nearly a century ago, the Chicago artist’s eclectic “handmade home” is an architectural masterpiece that also once served as a refuge for Black Panther Party members, according to the Chicago Reader.
Reader Emily Cripe said it’s “hidden behind an ornate door and through a courtyard” and “art is literally built into the walls everywhere you look.”
Reader Zac Whittenburg said it’s like “no other in Chicago (or on Earth).”
❓ Send more hidden Chicago gems, please!
📣 CITY CAST SHOUTOUT
Get LOUD for reader Julia Anderson, who referred people to the City Cast Chicago newsletter 👏 You’re the best, Julia!
Want one of these sweet little shoutouts? Tell your friends to subscribe, too!