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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.

Pic 1: A a bright red sign that reads "UPTOWN" in white is in front of a grand beige building at night. Cars drive by. Pic 2: Elaborate gothic elements line the theater ceiling. A dark mural appears to be in the center.
The Uptown Theatre exterior and interior. (Images by Carrie Shepherd)

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. 

Tick tock. 

👉 Sign the petition. Get involved with the Friends of the Uptown

🎧 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.

👉 Read the book. See Contreras at the Woodson Regional Library in Washington Heights Jan. 29.


▪️ 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.

+ THIS WEEK: Northwestern–Bronzeville community meetings
Weigh in on the incoming outpatient clinic today or Thursday at 6 p.m. 

+ SATURDAY: Hot Dog Box opens in Portage Park
Check out the fam’s first brick-and-mortar store this weekend 🌭


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).”

Pic 1: A white open room has wooden panels on the ceiling and stained glass windows to the right. A table is in the middle of the room. A small rug pokes into the foreground on the wooden floors. Pic 2: A green chair is next to a silver lamp and small wooden table. Plants and vases sit atop a white pyramid-like fireplace. Pic 3: Stained glass windows are by a cushioned window seat.
The Glasner Studio. (Images by Steve Silverman/Flickr)

👉 Check it out! Take the tour online or in person.

❓ Send more hidden Chicago gems, please!

Jennifer Lopez sings in all white at the 2020 Presidential Inauguration. She has silver circular earrings that are sparkling and earpieces in both ears. She sings "Let's Get Loud," which also flashes across the gif.

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! 

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