The Chicago Movie Palaces of Balaban and Katz
The Balaban and Katz Theater Corporation perfected the
"movie palace" concept in Chicago, reating an extremely
popular pastime that contributed greatly to Chicago's
cultural identity. The Balabans started in the movie theater
business in 1908 by leasing the 100-seat Kedzie
Nickelodeon on Kedzie Avenue. Balaban brothers Barney
and A. J. dreamed of operating 5,000-seat movie palaces,
so in 1916, they joined family friends Sam and Morris
Katz to form the Balaban and Katz Theater Corporation.
Their mission was to offer an unrivaled theater-going
experience with the finest live performances and service.
They built ornate theaters, such as the Chicago, the Uptown, and the Congress Theaters, filling them with fine
furnishings, antiques, and artwork. Balaban and Katz
produced live stage shows between the movies with
the likes of Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong, and Benny
Goodman. Sadly, only a few of these gorgeous theaters
still stand today.
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The First Balaban Theaters
Many Palaces Vanish Some Still Remain
A. J. Balaban Advertisement courtesy air-conditioning Balaban & Katz Balaban and Katz Balaban family Barney Balaban beautiful Bob Balaban building Central Park Theatre Cherry Robins Chicago Theatre Closed/demolished Closed/demolished Closed/demolished Congress Theater courtesy of Balaban courtesy of Bob courtesy of Cherry courtesy of Chicago courtesy of Theatre customers David Balaban designed by Rapp Dreams Chicago LLC Elmer employees entertainment Famous Players Lasky featured film Granada Gussie and Israel Image courtesy Israel Balaban John Balaban Katz Corporation Katz Historical Foundation Katz Magazine Katz movie palaces Katz theaters Katz's Kedzie live shows lobby Lubliner and Trinz Marbro Marks Brothers Morris Katz movie palaces movie theater neighborhood Norshore operated orchestras organ Oriental Theatre Paramount Publix patrons Photograph courtesy Players Lasky Corporation Rapp and Rapp Riviera Theatre Roosevelt Sam Katz seats Society of America Southtown television theaters in Chicago Theatre Historical Society Theatre opened Tivoli Uptown Theatre ushers WBKB week