Zeca Bettax, 25 May 2011

2011/05/25

I told you I had a backlog of photos from my Bettax, didn’t I? Somewhat coincidentally, this set has three theaters in it; two of them aren’t so coincidental, as they’re both in Uptown, and within a block of each other, but the third is downtown, and just happened to be on the same roll as the other two – totally unplanned, but rather neat coincidence. Oh, and it gets even more interesting than that: all three theaters were designed by the same firm and completed within 8 years of each other.

ZecaBettax CHI Acros100 ChicagoTheater01B

ZecaBettax CHI Acros100 LakeviewBrownLine01B

ZecaBettax CHI Acros100 RivieraTheater01B

ZecaBettax CHI Acros100 UptownBroadwayBldg01B

ZecaBettax CHI Acros100 UptownTheater01B

Photo Information:

Photo 1:
Location: Chicago, Illinois; North Loop
Camera: Zeca Bettax
Lens: Schneider-Kreuznach 105mm f/4.5 Radionar
Film: Fuji Neopan Acros 100 (120)

The Chicago Theater, completed in 1921 and designed by Rapp & Rapp. The Chicago Theater is on the east end of the Chicago Theater District – while it doesn’t quite have the same prestige as Broadway in NYC, the Theater District attracts a number of high profile productions each year, something the city is certainly proud to publicize. Of the numerous theaters in the District, this one is my favorite, probably not least because of the fabulous marquee…or the fact that the main façade is modeled after a Roman triumphal arch.

Photo 2:
Location: Chicago, Illinois; Lakeview Neighborhood
Camera: Zeca Bettax
Lens: Schneider-Kreuznach 105mm f/4.5 Radionar
Film: Fuji Neopan Acros 100 (120)

This is a relatively common sight around the city; given the age of the elevated tracks, it was quite common for neighborhoods to spring up around them. Of course, some of these neighborhoods, like Lakeview, were in fact independent cities at one time, and were later annexed by Chicago. Anyways, to maximize the use of available (but limited) real estate, buildings were often constructed immediately adjacent to the elevated tracks – not quite so pleasant for the tenants, though the fact that most of the older buildings so constructed were of solid masonry construction, which would tend to mitigate the noise (somewhat).

Photo 3:
Location: Chicago, Illinois; Uptown Neighborhood
Camera: Zeca Bettax
Lens: Schneider-Kreuznach 105mm f/4.5 Radionar
Film: Fuji Neopan Acros 100 (120)

The Riviera Theater in the Uptown Neighborhood at the intersection of Broadway & Racine (Broadway runs northwest here, so it cuts off Racine, which is also a north-south street). The theater was completed in 1918 and designed by Rapp & Rapp. This one is my least favorite of the three theaters in this post, though it is significant because it was the first for which the theater’s owner, Balaban & Katz, retained the services of Rapp & Rapp, and led to the former employing the latter almost exclusively on subsequent theater projects. This was significant for Rapp & Rapp, as Balaban & Katz were the developers behind the other two theaters in this post, the Chicago Theater and the Uptown Theater.

Photo 4:
Location: Chicago, Illinois; Uptown Neighborhood
Camera: Zeca Bettax
Lens: Schneider-Kreuznach 105mm f/4.5 Radionar
Film: Fuji Neopan Acros 100 (120)

The main entrance to the Uptown Broadway Building, composed primarily of opulent terra cotta detailing. While it may appear excessive, terra cotta is an easily molded material, so detailed repetitive forms are easy to create using it. The entrance to this building is the most elaborate and unique; the remainder of the building is clad with similar (but repetitive) details, also created in terra cotta. While this black & white photo does not indicate it, all of the terra cotta is pale yellow with bluish-grey accents. According to the AIA Guide to Chicago, there is a popular claim that this building was built by Al Capone, though said claim is considered an urban legend.

Photo 5:
Location: Chicago, Illinois; Uptown Neighborhood
Camera: Zeca Bettax
Lens: Schneider-Kreuznach 105mm f/4.5 Radionar
Film: Fuji Neopan Acros 100 (120)

The Uptown Theater, on Broadway just north of Lawrence. The theater was completed in 1925 and designed by Rapp & Rapp. While the Chicago Theater has a more prestigious location (being downtown and all), this was the largest theater developed by Balaban & Katz and designed by Rapp & Rapp. Sadly, I don’t think this theater is currently in operation; the Chicago Theater is frequently in use, and even the Riviera appears to see sporadic use, but I’ve never seen anything happening at the Uptown. Shame, as it a nice looking theater. The plastic covering at the top hides what is probably a rather ragged line; the main façade once sported much taller elements, reminiscent of a Spanish mission church façade, but these elements are no longer in evidence, apparently having been removeed and catalogued for future restoration. While it’s no longer in use, it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, either, as it is listed both on the National Register of Historic Places, and as a Chicago Landmark.

Enjoy.

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