The Rialto Theatre, 546 South State Street, Chicago, IL, in the Printer's Row neighborhood of the Loop community. (1906-1975) SEE BELOW
This was seemingly always a seedy joint. Opened in 1906 for the Jones, Linick & Schaefer circuit as the U.S. Music Hall, it was shut down briefly in 1916 for indecency, as it was always a burlesque house. In 1922 an abandoned baby was found there; in 1932, a rapist and killer were caught there; over the years, gambling was broken up, mob links were found, and it was shut down repeatedly.
By 1934 it had become the State-Harrison Theatre. By the mid-1940s, it had changed to a burlesque theatre before the city shut it down at the end of 1954 for lewd conduct. By 1967 it was called the Rialto Theatre, probably for the associations people had with the old Rialto Theatre a couple blocks north, when it was shut down again.
It reopened in 1971. In November 1974, it closed briefly after being a victim of a series of coordinated bombings of Chicago adult movie houses - the Rialto Theatre, Follies Theatre, Newberry Theatre, and the Bijou Theatre were all victims. It soon reopened but was shut down for good a few months later in 1975 as part of a code crackdown that shut a number of adult theatres.
|June 4, 1943 print ad.|
|Sandra Sexton, 1940s.|
|It’s the parade commemorating Movietime USA in the Loop in October of 1951. The Rialto Theatre is back to its original name and to burly shows as it is in the final throes of its long career in Chicago.|
Rialto Burlesque Theatre, 336 South State Street, Chicago, IL, was located a couple of blocks away on South State Street, which was also started as a burlesque theatre. (1917-1953)
The Rialto Theatre opened in 1917 as a venue for vaudeville and motion pictures, near the corner of State and Van Buren Streets.
The theatre was designed by the architectural duo of Marshall & Fox, who also designed the earlier legitimate Blackstone Theatre (now the Merle Reskin), the Blackstone Hotel, and later, Chicago’s famed Drake Hotel.
This mid-sized venue was located directly across the street from the Neo-Classical style department store building that began its life as Rothschild’s, then the Davis Store, then Goldblatt’s, and is today the Loop campus of DePaul University. By 1930 it was Minsky’s Rialto Theatre presenting burlesque.
From November 7, 1931, it was renamed "Loop End Theatre" presenting vaudeville & movies. From September 1, 1944, it was the "Downtown Theatre," it later reverted back to the "Rialto Theatre" name and closed on December 31, 1953.
It was demolished in January 1954. It was replaced by a handful of small one-story retail stores (“taxpayers”), which in turn were also torn down in the late 1980s and early 1990s, replaced by Pritzker Park, which is on the site today.
|July 1941, John Vachon, Farm Security Administration.|
|Rialto Poster Box to the left of the Hotel Entrance. Circa 1970.|
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.