Tuesday, July 30, 2019

New York Kosher at 2900 West Devon in Chicago. The history of this grocery store, deli, and their famous sign.

I was born, raised, and grew up 1 & ¼ blocks away. New York Kosher, or as my parents call it; Sinai 48. The West Ridge neighborhood has the unusual distinction of being the center of two types of Jewish communities at different times. Back in the 1950s and 60s, this was a heavily conservative/reform Jewish neighborhood. Then it became the center of an orthodox Jewish community. Today, there are few remnants from the old neighborhood. 
Double-sided porcelain and neon sign from the 1950s.
The New York Kosher grocery and deli on the northwest corner of Devon and Francisco Avenues was one of them. Just off the north-east corner is Levinson's bakery and a block further west is the Tel-Avia Kosher Bakery, which falls into the same category.

The number 48 in the oval on the top of the sign refers to Best Kosher's Sinai 48 brand. Based in Chicago, Best Kosher Foods Corporation is a subsidiary of Sara Lee Corporation, specializing in the preparation of kosher meats, including all-beef frankfurters and sausage links, bagel dogs, deli meats, low-fat meats, meat snacks, and pickles. The company's brands include Best's Kosher and Sinai 48. 

Best Kosher was founded in Cincinnati in 1886 by a Jewish German immigrant named Isaac Oscherwitz who opened a small butcher shop and began making kosher sausage. He offered a higher standard of glatt kosher meats with the Shofar and Sinai 48 Kosher labels for meats that were double inspected. 

Isaac Oscherwitz died in 1925, the same year that his youngest sons, Harry and Philip, moved to Chicago to establish a sister company called Best's Kosher Sausage Company. All Best Kosher products are made at the company's Chicago USDA-inspected plant.

The New York Kosher sign was removed when the owner received a letter from the City of Chicago to remove the sign because the size of the sign was not allowed to hang over the sidewalk and the owner was forced to take it down. It had been hanging there for 40 years. 
The sign was removed after a documentary crew filmed the removal of the sign on November 4, 2011. It was sold to a large Chicagoland antique dealer that specialized in large commercial signs.

Copyright 2019 by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Memorials of the Fort Dearborn Massacre which occurred on August 15, 1812.

The site of the Fort Dearborn Massacre is claimed to be on the corner of 18th street and Prairie Avenue in modern-day Chicago.

The massacre site was marked, for over a century, by a large cottonwood tree. After the tree died, it as replaced by a bronze statue “Black Partridge Saving Mrs. Helm," commissioned by George Pullman in 1893 at a cost of $30,000 created by the artist Carl Rohl-Smith (1848-1900). 
Pullman wrote: 
”An enduring monument, which should serve not only to perpetuate and honor the memory of the brave man and women and innocent children — the pioneer settlers who suffered here — but should also stimulate a desire among us and those who are to come after us to know more of the struggles and sacrifices of those who laid the foundation of the greatness of this city.”
The monument, to the dismay of many, was removed in 1931. It was last seen stored in a City of Chicago garage below the overpass near Roosevelt Road and Wells Street.

The relief on Michigan Avenue Bridgehouse (renamed the 'DuSable Bridge' in 2010) in Chicago commemorating the Fort Dearborn Massacre. (built 1918-1920)
"Defense Relief" - Fort Dearborn stood almost on this spot. After a heroic defense in eighteen hundred and twelve, the garrison together with women and children was forced to evacuate the fort. Led forth by Captain Wells, they were brutally massacred by the Indians. They will be cherished as martyrs in our early history.
By Henry Hering. 1928
 
On Saturday, August 15, 2009, the Chicago Park District dedicated the site as “Battle of Fort Dearborn Park,” in some misguided attempt to be politically correct, somewhat sanitizing history, they renamed the event from “massacre” to “battle” naming it the “Site of Battle of Fort Dearborn.”
The plaque, somewhat historically suspect, reads:
Battle of Fort Dearborn - August 15, 1812
From roughly 1620 to 1820 the territory of the Potawatomi extended from what is now Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Detroit, Michigan and included the Chicago area. In 1803, the United States Government built Fort Dearborn at what is today Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, as a part of lucrative trading in the area from the British. During the War of 1812, between the United States and Great Britain, some Indian tribes allied with the British to stop the westward expansion of the United States and to regain lost Indian lands. On August 15, 1812, more than 50 US soldiers and 41 civilians, including 9 women and 18 children were ordered to evacuate Fort Dearborn. This group, almost the entire population of U.S. citizens in the Chicago area, marched south from Fort Dearborn, along Lake Michigan until they reached this approximate site, where they were attacked by about 500 Potawatomi. In the battle and aftermath, more than 60 of the evacuees and 15 native Americans were killed. The dead included Army Captain William Wells, who has come from Fort Wayne, with Miami Indians to assist in the evacuation, and Naunongee, Chief of the Village of Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Ottawa Indians known as the Three Fires Confederacy. In the 1830s the Potawatomi of Illinois were forcibly removed to lands west of Mississippi. Potawatomi Indian Nations continue to thrive in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Canada, and more than 36,000 American Indians, from a variety of tribes, live in Chicago today.” 
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
Some photos by Jyoti.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Chicago's Rogers Park and West Ridge communities Movie Theaters History.

Literature of movie theater (many times spelled 'theatre') architecture tends to focus on the best examples of the type. But rarely do they provide a sense of how pervasive movie theater culture was as a form of neighborhood entertainment, or how it evolved in response to changes in building technology, film production, and social trends.

Before World War I, a common scheme of white glazed brick and green glazed brick trim, with terra cotta accents was an often-seen theater-style from those years.

The small movie houses at the turn of the 20th century were referred to as “photoplays.” They were built at the declining end of the nickelodeon era when features were short, admission was a nickel, and “talkies” were still over a decade away. These smaller theaters could not compete against the much larger movie palaces which began appearing only a few years later, some remained open into the 1950s or later.

Movie theaters can be divided into types based on their architectural characteristics, but also by the number of seats. Nickelodeons like the Casino and the Morse accommodated anywhere from 300 to 650 people. Neighborhood theaters like the Adelphi and the Ellantee could seat more than 1,000. Movie palaces could accommodate from 1,500 to more than 4,000.

Movie palaces were like the Woolly Mammoths, they grew to enormous sizes, yet depending on the perfect environment in order to survive. Movie palaces provided affordable entertainment in a beautiful surrounding. And in the Chicago summer, it didn't hurt that you could enjoy air conditioning long before it was readily available. But the buildings began to age, and the profit margins began to shrink. New movie theaters were more likely to open in areas with generous amounts of parking. Many of these elaborate theaters went into a long decline that ended in demolition.

400 Theater (1912). 6746 N. Sheridan Road. 725 Seats.
Originally named the Regent Theater, it was built as a vaudeville and movie house. It had one screen and could seat 725 people. Early on the name was changed to the Village North Theater.
In 1930 it was renamed again to the “400 Theater.” This is due to the fact that at the time “The Four Hundred” was a popular term for the top four hundred people in Chicago's high society. Keeping the name for over 65 years, the theater changed with the times, even splitting the auditorium into multiple screens, calling itself the “400 Twin.” 
Around 1995 the movie house had changed names to the Village North Theater, the once again, was rehabbed in 2008.
Then on July 1, 2009, it reopened as "The New 400 Theaters,” showing first-run movies on 35mm format in four refurbished venues.

Adelphi Theater (1917). 7074 N. Clark Street. 1,308 Seats.
The Adelphi Theatre opened November 10, 1917, with Emily Stevens in “Outwitted.” It was operated by the Ascher Brothers circuit. It was designed by local architect John E.O. Pridmore.

The Adelphi Theater was built just four years after the Morse Theater, but the change is dramatic. The marquee was more elaborate and a two-story illuminated sign was mounted to the building. The ornamentation has become more exuberant, and you can see the light sockets that are integral to the terra cotta columns. A signboard showed what was currently playing. This building accommodated several storefront spaces and a large lobby. Movies were still silent, but they were often feature-length, underscored with a live orchestra or organ music, and shown according to a schedule.

The small structures at the rear of the building were early air-conditioning equipment, a rare luxury for the time. And of course, this was fireproof construction with a steel frame, concrete floors and roof, and brick curtain walls.
Throughout the 1910s move, studios were being consolidated and centralized distribution was established. This theater was operated by the Ascher Brothers, who would coordinate movie distribution throughout their network. There were many of these early operators, including Balaban & Katz (B&K), Marks Brothers, William Fox, Marcus Loew, and Adolph Zukor. Theaters were bought and constructed with the intent of establishing entertainment empires. 

In the 1930s, the Adelphi Theatre received an Art Deco remodeling. The theatre was modernized during the 1940s and again in the 1950s. It began to show second-run features starting in the late-1960s, and closed briefly in the early-1980s, after several years screening Spanish movies.
In the mid-1980s, the Adelphi Theatre reopened as the North Shore Cinema but was again known as the Adelphi Theatre when it began to show East Indian films and became the premier venue for Bollywood features in the Chicagoland area, despite its down-on-its-heels appearance both inside and out.

The Adelphi Theatre closed in January 2002. Sadly, the still-viable theatre was demolished in January 2006. 

Casino Theater (1911). 7053 N. Clark Street. 299 Seats.
Emma Cohen with a front for “Hitchin' Posts” in 1920 at the Casino Theater in Chicago.
The former Casino Theater at 7053 N. Clark was the oldest motion picture theater in Rogers Park and was documented in an article published in the Chicago Tribune in August of 1911. It had a facade of glazed green and white brick with terra cotta trim. The theater was built in the middle of the nickelodeon craze, which lasted from 1905 until about 1914. For a nickel admission, you could enter and stay as long as you like. A typical nickelodeon might show short features 16 hours a day, from 8 am until midnight. 
Many early theaters were simply converted storefronts. These acquired a dangerous reputation since they were not fireproof and the early nitrate film stock was extremely flammable. 
NOTE: It's interesting that this theater only had 299 seats. According to the Chicago Building Code, theaters with 300 or more seats would be define as a Class-5 construction, requiring greater attention to safety features, at a greater expense.
The Casino was put out of business as larger, more elaborate theaters were constructed nearby. As movie theaters became more profitable the early ones were often superseded by larger models. The marquee was removed and it was converted into storefronts. The front of the theater building was identifiable by an arched parapet wall, but this has been removed and squared off making it harder to spot this for what it was.

Cine Theatre (1937).  2516 W. Devon Avenue. 1200 Seats.
The Rapp & Rapp designed Cine Theatre was opened in 1937 at Devon and Maplewood Avenues in the West Ridge community. The Cine Theatre closed in 1953 and was converted into a clothing store. The former theatre has been home to an Indian restaurant for many years.

Devon Theater (1929). 6225 N. Broadway (actually in Edgewater). 949 Seats.
Opened as the Knickerbocker Theater by the Lubliner & Trinz circuit in 1915 in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. On December 25, 1929, the Theater was renamed the Devon Theater, though it was more than two blocks away from Devon Avenue. 
It actually stood on North Broadway. Around the time it was renamed, the operation of the Devon Theater was taken over by Essaness. It mostly served as a second-run house and was quite plain. It continued to operate through the 1970s, and later housed a church for a time. The Devon Theater was razed in 1996 after the block was acquired by Loyola University’s expansion into Edgewater.

Ellantee Theater (1919). 1554 W. Devon. 1,484 Seats.
The Ellantee Theatre was later renamed the Ridge Theatre, which closed a long time ago. Today, the building is the Devon-Clark hardware store.

Granada Theater (1926). 6427 N. Sheridan Road. 3,448 Seats.
Built-in 1926 for the Marks Brothers circuit, this was one of the largest movie palaces on Chicago’s Far North Side, located in Rogers Park. The Granada Theater, designed by Edward Eichenbaum (of the firm of Levy & Klein), was opened September 18, 1926 with a Jack Haskell stage show “Eastern Nights” and on the screen Belle Bennett in “The Lilly” (The story of a woman who fights like a tigress to ensure happiness to her young sister). The Granada Theater was originally designed for both live stage shows (Vaudeville) and films.
The Wurlitzer 4/20 theater organ was played by Alfred F. Brown. The proscenium was 60 feet wide and the stage was 32 feet deep. Seating was provided for 3,448, with 1,833 in the orchestra level and 1,615 seats in the balcony. 
A Wurlitzer 4/20 Theatre Organ.
On November 18, 1932, the theater was acquired by the Balaban & Katz chain and it was briefly closed, reopening on July 29, 1933, with John Barrymore in “Reunion In Vienna” and Laurel & Hardy in “Me and My Pal.” By the 1940s the Granada was only showing movies. 
On November 19, 1975, the World Premiere of Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was held at the Granada Theater, with Jack Nicholson & Louise Fletcher appearing ‘in person.’ It remained open as a movie theatre, operated by Plitt Theatres until the late-1970s. The Granada was used for rock concerts sporadically during the early to mid-1980s but eventually closed entirely.

The Granada was raized in 1990, after being stripped of all its remaining decorations. An apartment complex at 6441 N. Sheridan Road was built on the theater's site in 1991.

Howard Theater (1917). 1621 W. Howard Street. 1,625 Seats.
The Howard Theater was designed by Henry L. Newhouse and built-in 1917. It was soon acquired by Balaban & Katz. The building contained a row of commercial spaces with residential units above.
A major burst in movie theater creativity occurred in the Howard Street commercial district. This area was a transit hub between Chicago and the North suburbs, and supported a strong commercial and entertainment district after its annexation to Chicago in 1915. At the time you couldn't buy liquor in nearby Evanston, but the merchants along Howard Street were willing to remedy the situation.
Heating and Ventilating Magazine, 1919.
Originally the entire facade of glazed green and white brick with terra cotta trim was illuminated with integral lights, including two domed towers that must have been visible throughout the district. Notable was its ornate Neo-Classical style facade, complete with sculpted masks of comedy and tragedy, and the theatre’s name inscribed above the arch-shaped window over the marquee.
The Howard Theatre continued to show first-run films until it was shuttered around Thanksgiving 1975. In 1999, the long-vacant Howard Theatre’s auditorium was razed but its beautiful facade and outer lobby were saved and integrated into the apartments and retail structure which was built on the site of the Howard Theatre.

Knickerbocker Theater (1915). 6225 N. Broadway (actually in Edgewater). 949 Seats.
Opened as the Knickerbocker Theater by the Lubliner & Trinz circuit in 1915 in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. On December 25, 1929, the Theater was renamed the Devon Theater, though it was more than two blocks away from Devon Avenue. 
It actually stood on North Broadway. Around the time it was renamed, the operation of the Devon Theater was taken over by Essaness. It mostly served as a second-run house and was quite plain. It continued to operate through the 1970s, and later housed a church for a time. The Devon Theater was razed in 1996 after the block was acquired by Loyola University’s expansion into Edgewater.

Lincoln Village Theater (1968). 6101 N. Lincoln Avenue. 1,440 Seats. Then Lincoln Village 1-3 - then changed to 7-9.
Lincoln Village Theater was just like some old-school, fabulous, downtown Chicago theaters, at a time when downtown was beginning to lose theaters. The lobby was expansive, luxurious, lit by dramatic wall sconces and a working fireplace. There was a sunken seating area and fancy restrooms. A place to see and be seen.
Inside the theatre, extra-wide aisles led to extra-cushy seats. A wood-paneled balcony structure rose off the main floor. There wasn’t a bad seat in the house, thanks to stadium-style seating.

Under new owners, the Lincoln Village Theater (7-9) was partitioned into three oddly shaped boxes, then the building was razed around 2000. 

Read my in-depth Lincoln Village Theater article.

Lincoln Village 1-6 (1989). 6341 N. McCormick Boulevard.
This cinema opened June 29, 1989, as an addition to the Lincoln Village Theater, which by this time, had been broken up into 3 screens from the original one-screen theater palace. The triplex theater changed from the Lincoln Village 1-3 to the Lincoln Village 7-9. 
Around 2000, the former Lincoln Village 7-9 was closed and demolished, replaced by a new retail space. In late-2005, the Lincoln Village 1-6 was sold by Loews to the Village Theatres chain.

The first movies to show at Lincoln Village 1-6 were “The Karate Kid Part III”, (on two screens), “Do The Right Thing”, “Great Balls of Fire”, and “Batman” (on two screens).

The Lincoln Village was acquired by FunAsia, a chain featuring Bollywood films, in May of 2008. However, by December 2008, the theater was closed.

Morse Theater (1912). 1330 W. Morse. 650 Seats.
Neighborhood residents will recognize this as "The Mayne Stage," with 299 seats. It was recently renovated as a concert space and bar near the Morse El stop. It has since been closed. But before it became the Mayne Stage it was the Morse Theater.

The Morse Theater went a step beyond the Casino Theater. It used an attractive combination of glazed green and white brick with terra cotta trim to convey respectability. And it was claimed to be fireproof built using steel roof trusses and fireproof cladding. 

The central bay provided access to the box office and a small lobby. The projecting marquee and inset entrance helped to extend the theater space and draw in the crowd. Box offices were normally placed close to the sidewalk to better call-in customers. Two flanking storefronts allowed for additional income. With a seat count of 650 building code required that the theater observe the maximum number of seats-per-row (13), provide clear secondary exits to the alley, and locate the projector in a fire-proof room.

It was common for these theaters to combine motion pictures with live entertainment to compete with the popular vaudeville shows of the time. Interestingly, vaudeville had begun to intersperse their own shows with short feature films. As live performances became more expensive most movie theaters eliminated them. Vaudeville itself was hit hard by the popularity of the motion picture. Two years after this theater was built D.W. Griffith's twelve-reel Birth of a Nation became the first blockbuster, paving the way for more feature-length films and further boosting the popularity (and profitability) of motion pictures.
During the mid-1930’s, it was remodeled in Art Deco style and renamed the Co-Ed Theater, playing on its proximity to Loyola University. The Co-Ed closed in 1954 and from 1956 until 1977, it became home to the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue.
In 1986, the building was converted into the Cobbler’s Mall, which included, as the name implies, a shoe repair store. In 2008, the Morse Theatre was renovated and restored, and reopened in October 2008 as a venue for concerts, despite an arson attack in August. Live theater, independent cinema, and children’s programs were also planned. It reopened early-2010 as the Mayne Stage. In March 2016 it ceased being a concert venue and now hosts special events.

New Devon Theater (1912). 1618 W. Devon Avenue. 556 Seats.
The New Devon Theater was built in 1912 with the common scheme of white glazed brick with dark green glazed brick trim, an often-seen style from the years just before World War I. The large main entrance arch has a relief of a woman’s face at the top of the arch. 
Among its earliest movie listings was a photoplay titled "The Diamond from the Sky," from 1915, a drama hyped with a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune. This serial told the story of the diamond heir loom of the Stanley family.
The New Devon was listed for sale in the Saturday, December 21, 1918, Chicago Tribune, when the nearby Ellantee Theater (completed in 1919) at 1554 W. Devon, was under construction

By 1922 it had been converted to the William J. Hughey Motor Company, a Ford dealership, at 1618 W. Devon, and in 1936 it had become an American Legion hall.

In 1941 it housed the Rogers Park chapter of America First, an anti-war group which had trouble finding lodgings in the area due to landlords’ fear of being seen as pro-peace while war raged in Europe. The group had been summarily kicked out of another meeting space after only a few weeks of occupancy, no reasons given.

By 1952, it appears to have been home to Devon-Clark Radio, which changed to Devon-Clark Television by 1954, an electronics store selling Westinghouse electronics, air conditioners with the tagline “Sleep in an ice cube on hot muggy nights,” only $2.66 a week! ($25.38 a week today) and other goods – though some ads list the address as 1612 Devon, a different building entirely.

Since 1963, it has served Chicago’s Assyrian community as the home of the Assyrian American Association of Chicago.

Norshore Theater (1925). 1749 W. Howard Street. 3,017 Seats.
In 1925 the Norshore Theater located just to the west of the elevated tracks. It contained 3,017 seats and had a facade of glazed green and white brick with terra cotta trim. 
A major burst in movie theater creativity occurred in the Howard Street commercial district. This area was a transit hub between Chicago and the North suburbs, and supported a strong commercial and entertainment district after its annexation to Chicago in 1915. At the time you couldn't buy liquor in nearby Evanston, but the merchants along Howard Street were willing to remedy the situation.
Portions of the front facade slanted back from the street slightly. This had the effect of funneling people towards the theater entrance. At the marquee there were tall terra cotta piers with large signs, visible from east and west.
The ornamentation of this theater was more restrained than that of the Howard Theater. The Norshore Theater was built by Rapp & Rapp, in the French Renaissance Revival style. It was also noted as being operated by Balaban & Katz. It does seem odd to have two large Balaban & Katz theaters a block away from each other. The demand for movies at this time must have been breathtaking. But it wasn't to last. This theater was demolished in 1960.

North Shore Theater (1912). 6610 N. Sheridan Road. 
This early Rapp & Rapp theater was announced in the September 25, 1912 Chicago Tribune. It was described as two stories high and of fireproof construction. By 1927, it had turned into retail stores. In 1966, an apartment building rose on the site, which remains today.

Nortown Theater (1931). 6320 N. Western Avenue. 2,086 Seats.
The Nortown Theater was built by Balaban & Katz. It opened on April 4th, 1931 with Nancy Carroll in “Stolen Heaven” and Laurel & Hardy in “Chickens Come Home.”
Chickens Come Home staring Laurel & Hardy

The Nortown Theater was an Atmospheric style theater, designed by architect James E.O. Pridmore, to look like you were sitting in an outdoor theater with the ceiling at night with stars twinkling.
The Nortown Theater was located in the West Ridge neighborhood on Western Avenue near Rosemont Avenue. It featured a 3/15 Wurlitzer theater organ which was opened by organist Eddie House ‘Chicago’s Premier Singing Organist’.
Wurlitzer 3/15 Theater Organ.
The theater closed in 1990 after an unsuccessful triplexing in 1984 and was afterward used as a community center and still later, as a church.
Unfortunately, the Nortown Theater was demolished in June-August 2007. A great deal of the theater’s decorative terra-cotta and plaster was salvaged before the building was torn down. Condominiums and two small cinemas (which will cater to Pakistani and Indian audiences), along with retail space, were planned to replace the Nortown Theater. However these fell through. It is currently a Wendy’s restaurant.

Park Theater (1912). 6916 N. Clark Street. 300 Seats.
This small nickelodeon operated from 1912-1916. It now houses Fast Muffler Auto Service.

Plaza Theaters 1, 2, 3 (1980). 3343 W. Devon Avenue.
Located in a strip mall and first operated by Essaness, later (briefly) by Plitt then finally by Cineplex-Odeon. This theater was one of the most generic, non-descript Theaters ever in Chicagoland. Located across the street from a Golden Bear Restaurant on McCormick Blvd., the Lincoln Village Shopping Center, where the old Lincoln Village Theater 7-9 was located. It was just to the south, and on the east side of McCormick Blvd.

The Plaza 1, 2, 3 was housed in the closed Jewel Food Store, just next to Community Discount World. To be more precise, it occupied the north half of the building. It opened on December 12, 1980 with “Stir Crazy” playing on two screens. The third screen opened on December 25th, Christmas day. It operated until 1998. The Plaza's downfall probably started when Cineplex-Odeon built the Lincoln Village Theater 1-6 on the east side of McCormick Blvd.

Regent Theater (1912). 6746 N. Sheridan Road. 725 Seats.
The Regent Theater was originally built as a vaudeville and movie house, had one screen and could seat 725 people.
In 1930 it was renamed the “400 Theater.” This is due to the fact that at the time “The Four Hundred” was a popular term for the top four hundred people in Chicago's high society. Keeping the name for over 65 years, the theater changed with the times, even splitting the auditorium into multiple screens, calling itself the “400 Twin.” 
Around 1995 the movie house had changed names to the Village North Theater, the once again, was rehabed in 2008.
Then on July 1, 2009 it reopened as "The New 400 Theaters,” showing first run movies on 35mm format in four refurnished venues.

Ridge Theater (1919). 1554 W. Devon. 1,200 Seats.
The Ridge Theatre was previously the Ellantee Theatre. Long ago closed as a movie house, today the building houses the Devon-Clark hardware store.

Village North Theater (1912). 6746 N. Sheridan Road. 725 Seats.
Originally named the Regent Theater, it was built as a vaudeville and movie house. It had one screen and could seat 725 people. Early on the name was changed to the Village North Theater.
In 1930 it was renamed again to the “400 Theater.” This is due to the fact that at the time “The Four Hundred” was a popular term for the top four hundred people in Chicago's high society. Keeping the name for over 65 years, the theater changed with the times, even splitting the auditorium into multiple screens, calling itself the “400 Twin.” 
Around 1995 the movie house had changed names to the Village North Theater, the once again, was rehabed in 2008.
Then on July 1, 2009 it reopened as "The New 400 Theaters,” showing first run movies on 35mm format in four refurnished venues.

Copyright 2019 by Neil Gale, Ph.D.