Esquire Theatre

58 E. Oak Street,
Chicago, IL 60611

Unfavorite 28 people favorited this theater

Showing 101 - 125 of 188 comments

GrandMogul on March 29, 2007 at 10:45 am

Chicago Tribune, Tuesday, February 25, 1964, s. 1, p. 22, c. 2:
Tower Ticker, by Herb Lyon

“… . ‘Dr. Strangelove,’ the nightmarish flicker satire on the bomb, is doing positively explosive biz at the Esquire. All box office records are going up in a mushroom cloud … .”

Chicago American, Friday, August 8, 1958, p. 11, c. 4:
An attendance record was set when “The Matchmaker” had its Midwest premiere at the Esquire Theater. The film, boasting such stars as Shirley Booth, Anthony Perkins and Shirley MacLaine, played to sell-out crowds.

CatherineDiMartino on March 20, 2007 at 5:11 am

I looked at the photo that Lost Memory linked to. Did Citibank occupy the space that was once the auditorium?

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 7, 2007 at 7:55 am

Yep, all times of day it can be seen on. Last night I had to go down Lake Shore Drive, and the vertical sign was on.

CatherineDiMartino on March 5, 2007 at 10:04 am

Life’s Too Short—

Maybe it’s to scare away ghosts of movie-goers past! (I heard that even “Resurrection Mary” showed up, but was fooled by the lit marquee :–] !)

I am joking, of course, but is it even on during the day?

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 5, 2007 at 8:33 am

Every time I drive down Michigan Avenue they have the marquee turned on. Go figure…

CatherineDiMartino on March 5, 2007 at 8:28 am

Have they begun the demolition yet?

CinemarkFan on January 29, 2007 at 4:13 pm

That’s messed up. Just replace it with some more high-rise mumbo jumbo that Oak St’s got already.

Broan on January 28, 2007 at 7:44 am

[url=]Here[/ur;] is an article with information on other Oak street development that includes some info on the esquire.

GFeret on January 2, 2007 at 10:52 am

When the ESQUIRE was still single-auditorium it had what must’ve been the steepest projection angle from booth down to screen that I’ve ever seen. Plus they were still operating w/ carbon arc lighting then—about the last to change-over to xenon I’d guess. The point I might be trying to make is the picture there was incomparable when SUPERMAN I, STAR TREK I, & CLOSE ENCOUNTERS first opened.

Around 1973 Mr. Linwood G. Dunn gave a neat special-effects reel presentation at the ESQUIRE. In early ‘70s they were also big on running the “stereo-phonic sound” version of FANTASIA, plus the un-cut original KING KONG.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on December 22, 2006 at 6:55 am

I went past the corner of Oak and State recently (while I was on my way to the Village Theatre). I noticed that at least a part of the marquee for the Esquire was lit up. What’s up with that?

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on December 4, 2006 at 8:50 am has pictures of the Esquire on it. These pictures include those taken on the final days of operation. Notice how several lights on the still-impressive marquee are burnt-out. But there are also pictures of what the place looked like before plex-ing, including the auditorium. Did retail go in where the old auditorium was?

One can get a sense of what changed and what remained after the plex-ing. The contours of the old auditorium remained. So did the light fixtures in the lobby and the art-deco railings. The small cashier’s station (used on lighter days when the main, outdoor ones weren’t in use) View link and View link is approximately where the entrances to the ladies' and men’s lounges were View link

These are Brian Wolf’s photos and I am grateful that he posted photos of the original auditorium too because I never had the chance to visit this place when it was a single screener.

Purists may bemoan the plex-ing of this place and a lot was lost. But even as a six-plex, I liked the Esquire. It still had nice touches and there was nothing wrong with it that some renovations couldn’t have corrected.

As the band Living Colour once sang “Now you can tear a building down, but you can’t erase the memories.”

JRS40 on November 1, 2006 at 5:17 am

I have the bookings of the Esquire from 1963-1980 so I looked it up. The picture with “The Gambler” on the marquee would have been taken between 10/18 and 11/7, 1974.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on November 1, 2006 at 3:18 am

Per Robert R.’s post above:

The photo shows the Esquire during the Walter Reade years. The movie on the marquee is THE GAMBLER starring James Caan and Lauren Hutton. According to the Internet Movie Database that would place the photo in 1974. Obviously it’s not the Kenny Rogers movie of the same name!

I went out and took pictures the day after it closed, just as I did when the REAL Berghoff closed and as I will do after Carson Pirie Scott closes. It’s too bad that the photo feature on this site doesn’t work, but I’ll see if I can get them posted on

Broan on October 31, 2006 at 8:23 pm

Well, the Esquire wasn’t Cineplex until they merged with Loews/Sony in 1997. As a 6-plex, it was M&R/Loews and then Sony.

Larry Wilson
Larry Wilson on October 31, 2006 at 7:02 pm

I remember how beautiful this theatre used to be. I saw two movies here before they split it up—“Gandhi” in 1982, and “Return of the Jedi” on opening day in 1983. Both presentations were in 70mm, and “Jedi” was the first time I noticed Dolby Stereo.

After that, I only saw two more movies there after the conversion—“Ransom” and “Outbreak.” I was so disgusted with what they did to the place that I never went back. IMHO, it represents everything that went wrong with Cineplex Odeon when Loews/Sony muscled its way into Chicago.

rcrnkovich on October 14, 2006 at 6:37 am

It’s a real shame that the monied of Chicago have no respect for the city’s great history as represented by its unique landmark buildings and retailers. If The Esquire were in Charleston, S.C. it would gladly have been saved. But then, I think this is just another aspect of a larger social phenomenon that looks only to the moment and the bottom line dollar.

Broan on October 7, 2006 at 2:06 pm

That’s pretty cool, RobertR. Where did you find it? I will shortly add a couple more historic interiors of the building for reference purposes only to my flickr including the much-requested original auditorium view. Also those who suggested that the lobby was largely a fascimile of the original are totally right, it was a reconstruction for the most part, but I think it still retained the character fairly well. The auditoriums were nonetheless pretty dreadful.

telliott on October 7, 2006 at 8:59 am

Fabulous pictures Brian Wolf! Always wondered what the inside of the Esquire looked like. Can’t believe they are going to tear down this lovely theater! What a waste…what a shame. It looks like it would have made a terrific specialty cinema showing independent, foreign and art films. Too damn bad someone couldn’t have saved this. Oh well…that’s progress, but what a loss. I know what it’s like, having lost many wonderful theaters here in Toronto. Sometimes I just wish progress would go away…

RobertR on October 7, 2006 at 7:37 am

In the Walter Reade years
View link

ilovedlandmark on September 27, 2006 at 12:25 pm

Hey, CinemarkFan,

Don’t fool yourself. Since Mark Cuban bought Landmark Theatres, that company has no interest in preserving old theatres. In fact, they’ve put small, independent art houses out of business in Washington D.C. and Indianapolis. Furthermore, he’s focused on building a megaplex in L.A. and introducing a series of “rock'n'roll” theatres, where teenagers are encouraged to make noise and send text messages during the films.

This is to say nothing of his day-and-date movie releasing that threatens to put more theatres out of business.

More on this here:

CinemarkFan on September 17, 2006 at 4:51 am

I went to see “Crank” at the 600 North Michigan yesterday, and I saw the same coming attractions poster that hung in the lobby of the Esquire. It’s the one with the Purple lettering. It can be found on the same level as theaters 4-5.

iconeon on September 16, 2006 at 12:56 pm

Brian, I do remember seeing you.
Funny, I went in at about 6:30 and asked about taking shots, and was told no. Having been nearly arrested for taking photos on other private property, I have learned to not push it too far. They must have been intimidated by my tripod and black semi-fancy camera (I wouldn’t have used the tripod inside, and I am not a professional). Your point and shoot may have felt harmless to them.

I am glad you did get the shots you did, and thanks for posting the early shots as well. Oh, and thanks for the compliment on my blog.

iconeon on September 16, 2006 at 6:18 am

I haven’t been a member until now, but I spent an hour and a half on the Esquire’s last night taking shots of the exteriod. I asked about shooting inside, but was told that they were not allowed to do that, even though it was the last night.
I posted several images on my Blog Looper
and also on my flickr.

Broan on September 15, 2006 at 8:09 pm

I didn’t note that specifically but I want to say it was brownish.