By the 1920s, the iconic force of the movie house had become so powerful in the public mind that the brightly lit marquee, touting the latest movie playing in town, became a sure sign that a main street or neighborhood shopping area had “made it”
-Michael Putnam, in Silent Screens
Long before the advent of the household television and the dominance of major motion picture companies, the single screen independent movie house was as common in Avondale as in any other thriving neighborhood. At least ten movie houses, most of them offering a single screen, opened in the neighborhood in the 1910s.
While movie attendance began to decline after 1946 with the dominance of the household television, many other factors influenced the decline of independent cinema. The battle between major movie companies (Paramount, Fox, Warner Brothers, Loew’s) and trade associations of independent theatre operators played out over several decades. In 1948, independent cinema scored a major victory when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the notion that major companies held an illegal monopoly. However, the control of production and distribution and strength of advertising (largely through television) enabled the major forces in cinema to ultimately triumph. By the 1980s, the 1948 consent decrees were virtually abandoned.
Still, traces of small cinema remain in Avondale. Most of the buildings remain standing, though those that do have been completely gutted and repurposed. Following is a summary of known movie houses within the bounds of Avondale.
|Cinema||Address||Current Function||Dates in Operation|
|Linden||3018 Belmont||Honey Baked Ham Company||1913-?|
|Elston/Fox||3167 Elston||warehouse, mostly gutted and used for storage||1913-?|
|Enterprise||2829 Milwaukee||Taqueria Ranchito||1913-1914+|
|Avondale||2879 Milwaukee||North Chicago Dental Clinic||1910-?|
|Drake||2905 Milwaukee||was Chicago Salvage||1912-1919|
|Nita/Crescent||2915 Milwaukee||May have been demolished (Jazz Age Chicago); may be same building as Carniceria Mejor (Cinema Treasures)||1912-1950s|
|Round-Up/ Dale/Rose||2858 Milwaukee||Demolished a few years ago by Wilcox Company realtors||1914-1950s|
|Milford||3311 Pulaski||Demolished, and now the location of CVS||1917-1990|