Chicago, day 6, Uptown

The sixth day in Chicago was the day of our departure. However, the flight was fairly late and so we managed to squeeze a couple of things in before we flew off.
We made a visit to the Uptown area, a suburb of Chicago which sprung into being when a terminal of the railway was built there in 1900. The name is from the Uptown Store the commercial centre for the community. Uptown was a summer tourist destination for Chicago residents, and as such, in the 1920's a number of theatres were built and the Essanay Studios was used by stars such as Charlie Chaplin for film production.
By the 1950's the railway had moved further out and with it the commuters and new housing developments. The fortunes of Uptown reversed and waves of immigrants moved in. One of the areas of Uptown, Argyle, became 'Little Vietnam' and it was there we went for our lunch. In the 2000's Uptown started to revive and housing prices have since risen. There are still some rather seedy areas.
In the morning we spent some time in the entertainment area. Here a bank, now the Bridgeview Bank but originally the Sheridan Trust and Savings Bank is open for tourist business rather than banking. Built in 1924 the building has maintained the original banking hall and strong room, both of which can be visited (free).

The bank lies in the heart of the entertainment area. At a corner, is the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, once owned by 'Machine Gun' Jack McGurn, a right hand man of Al Capone. Capone, a frequent visitor had a table on the left at the back where he had a clear view of the street and could slip out quietly and into the side road, if necessary. The venue still hosts top jazz performers.

Once a movie palace the Riviera Theatre, built in 1919, is now a concert venue.

The Aragon Ballroom was used in the 1920's and 30's to host big bands and in the 40's and 50's Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra often played there. The performances were transmitted by live radio which added to the popularity of the place. Hotels were built to accommodate the people staying late at the Aragon. It is still very much in use today, and big name bands like the Rolling Stones, The Ramones, Nirvana have used it as a venue. We were lucky to be able to get inside and look at the reception hall done out in a rather strange 'Spanish' style.

Close to the Aragon is the massive faded gem of the Uptown Theatre. With almost 4,500 seats this place was closed in 1981 and, although the 'Friends of the Uptown' had tried to restore is, recent flooding puts its destiny in doubt. It was designed by Rapp and Rapp famous movie palace architects and opened in 1925. It still the largest seating capacity of any theatre in the USA. 

Here are a few images from around the area.


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