Thursday, September 30, 2010

Uptown, Pt. 2

Riviera Theater 1-Chicago, IL, originally uploaded by William 74.

Just up the street from the Uptown stands The Riviera, the second stop on our tour of Uptown's classic venues. Opened in 1918, the Riv was a 2,500 seat movie palace, and like the Uptown was designed by Rapp and Rapp and managed by Balaban and Katz. B&K posited the Riviera as an upscale theater, better than the cheapie nickel joints that dotted the city. Interestingly, the Riviera included not only the theater, but several storefronts along Racine and thirty-six apartments.

The Riviera showed movies until the 1970's, when it was converted to a concert venue. It's undergone changes, and is kind of shabby inside now, although it's not the absolute pit people sometimes say it is. But it's impressively original in places, too, and you can feel the history dripping from the chandeliers (or maybe that's just condensation-it gets hot in there). I've seen concerts here, but I can't quite imagine seeing a movie there-I imagine it must have been quite awesome, to be seated in this ornate Jazz-Age cathedral, uniformed ushers at the ready, watching a flickering screen.

I like passing the Riv, even when it's closed. I'm not sure why-I think it's simply because it's still there, and still operating. The Uptown Bank Building is still across the street, but it's the Bridgeview Bank now. The plastic cladding is gone from the storefronts next door. The awesome old Goldblatt's sign is gone from the building across Racine, a building that's been nicely restored to it's early condition. The tidy streets of Lakeview and Andersonville are slowly being replicated here in seedy old Uptown, and there's the Riviera, waiting for the next crowd to turn up.

Oh, I almost forgot. The Golden House next door? Same as it ever was.

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