Saturday, August 06, 2005

Uptown Theater Community Portrait set for Noon, Sunday, August 20th

It's been closed for a quarter century, but activists are still trying to save the historic Uptown Theatre at 4816 N. Broadway. At noon, on Saturday, August 20th, poet Marc Smith will emcee "Uptown Community Portrait 2005," where community residents and architecture buffs will pose in front of Chicago's largest surviving movie palace for a portrait that will replicate similar shoots taken at the theater's opening in 1925, and again in 2000 (shown at left). Although officially designated a Chicago landmark, the Uptown is in dire need of funds to maintain the huge structure, and as well as an investor with deep-pockets and a viable business plan for making the 4,000+ seat neighborhood venue economically self-sustaining.

For more information, email to Friends of the Uptown, call (773) 250-7665 or (773) 878-1064, or view the Web site. The full text of the organization's press release can be found in the first comment to this post.

1 comment:

Lynn Becker said...

Press Release:

‘Uptown Community Portrait 2005’ set for Saturday, Aug. 20
Neighbors and fans to reprise famous 1925 and 2000 scenes

CHICAGO- Uptown neighbors and fans of architecture in the Uptown entertainment district are encouraged to help make history by posing for a classic photograph in front of the neighborhood’s namesake historic theater at noon Saturday, Aug. 20, at Broadway and Lawrence.

Marc Smith, internationally acclaimed poet and creator of the Uptown Poetry Slam at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, will emcee the event. Actors from the Quest Theatre Ensemble costumed as colorful stilt walkers and rovers will entertain passersby on the street.

The free, rain-or-shine “Uptown Community Portrait 2005” event celebrates the community and the 80th anniversary of the historic Uptown Theatre, 4816 N. Broadway. The theater has been closed since 1981 and is in serious need of significant private investment for it to be renovated as an entertainment venue.

While exterior repair work is ongoing and development prospects continue to express interest in renovating the Uptown Theatre, no definitive project or plan for the privately owned building has been announced. A court-appointed receiver and local officials continue to monitor its condition and marketing. Several state and local incentives are available -- including city tax-increment financing -- for a feasible plan that meets civic criteria and expectations for the multi-venued Uptown Square National Register Historic District. However, the search for a viable entertainment prospect continues.

The goal of the “Uptown Community Portrait 2005” is to create a high-quality color photograph of the event, duplicating historical views of the theater’s opening day in 1925 and the “Uptown Community Portrait 2000.” More than 300 neighbors and fans turned out for the event in 2000. Sponsored by the Uptown Chicago Commission, the Uptown Community Development Corporation and Friends of the Uptown, the community portrait is used in many publications and advertisements to represent the people and buildings of the now-ascendant district. Noted Chicago architectural photographer Bob Nick will capture the picture from a perch on a scaffold across the street from the theater.

A similar photo was taken on opening day in August 1925, when crowds waited in lines around the block for the Uptown Theatre’s first presentations, which included the silent film “The Lady Who Lied.” Likewise, enthusiasm for the neighborhood and the theatre was captured in the “Uptown Community Portrait 2000.” Prints of the 1925 and 2000 photographs are available for ordering. Prints of the “Uptown Community Portrait 2005” will be available for purchase and delivered by mail soon after the event.

Fans of the Uptown Theatre may show their support for the concept of renovating the building for an entertainment use by signing an ongoing, related online petition posted at More than 800 signatures have been collected.

For more information about the “Uptown Community Portrait 2005,” please send an email to Friends of the Uptown via, call (773) 250-7665 or (773) 878-1064, or view the Web site,