Paradise Theatre (Chicago)

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The Paradise Theatre was a Balaban and Katz movie palace located in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood. Its address was 231 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago, Illinois 60624. Located near the intersection of West Madison Street and Crawford Avenue (now Pulaski Road) in the West Garfield Park area of Chicago's West Side, it opened on September 14, 1928, and was billed as the world's most beautiful theater for its stunning interior and exterior beauty. It is regarded as one of the finest designs by architect John Eberson, as the sheer opulence and intricate craftsmanship that went into the theater made it a showpiece in and of itself. Unfortunately, flaws in the design (blamed on the vast domed ceiling in the over 3,500-seat auditorium) were exposed with the advent of talking pictures. Poor acoustics eventually cost the theater its attendance as neighborhood movie-goers would eventually turn to the nearby Marks Brothers showplace, the Marbro Theater. As a result, business at the Paradise never recovered.

The Paradise Theatre's demise came in 1956, when Balaban and Katz decided to demolish the building and sell the land to a supermarket chain. The theater that was "built to stand forever" almost lived up to that claim: what was estimated to have been a six-month demolition job ended up taking two years.

Despite having never been a terribly successful movie house, the Paradise Theatre continues to live on in popular culture. It was made somewhat famous by the rock band Styx in their album Paradise Theatre. The record, which was recorded in 1980 at Pumpkin Studios in the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn, was released on January 18, 1981. It became a Triple platinum, Billboard#1 hit album, with numerous number one hits to its name. Lead singer and keyboardist Dennis DeYoung described the concept album as a fictional account of Chicago's Paradise Theater from its opening to closing (and eventual abandonment), serving as a metaphor for America's changing times from the late 1970s into the 1980s (Dennis DeYoung confirmed this in a 1991 episode of In the Studio with Redbeard which devoted an entire episode to the making of the album).

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