One of the things I’ve discovered in blogging about the history of Hollywood Park is most stories start in the neighborhood but eventually lead to my learning something new about the city.
I planned on interviewing Allan Zirlin about his memories of growing up in nearby Albany Park in the 1940s. It turned out he had a bigger story to tell: he’s been photographing downtown Chicago street scenes since the 1950s, when he was a student at the Art Institute. He sent me a few photographs to share on my blog, and, as noted in my previous post, you can see many more on his website and also on his Facebook page.
A parade of stars once swept through the doors of 610 N. Fairbanks Court in Streeterville. Lines formed around the block to see the likes of Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Milton Berle, Sophie Tucker, Jimmy Durante, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Bob Hope performing at the Chez Paree supper club.
Maike (Mike) Fritzel and Joe Jacobson opened the nightspot in 1932. In 1949 they sold the business to a group that included Jay Schatz. The property, now called the Schatz Building, is still in the family.
In the 1920s, Fritzel owned Friar’s Inn, a speakeasy on Wabash, and later owned Fritzel’s at 201 N. State. He also bought the Tradewinds Restaurant at 865 N. Rush and had an interest in Don the Beachcomber.
The Schatz Building was designed by architects Benjamin Marshall and Charles Eli Fox in 1917 and originally housed a bakery for the Horn & Hardart Automat Company. Marshall and Fox designed several Chicago landmarks, including the Drake Hotel and the Blackstone Hotel.
I first noticed the building, unusual in that area for its strong emphasis on horizontal lines, in the early 1980s. Over the years the facade changed slightly and then dramatically, always retaining a connection to the arts–a sculpture, a mural.
That was the exterior. I had no idea of its cultural significance on the inside. In the 1940s, the Bauhaus School’s Laszlo Moholy-Nagy opened the School of Design, later called the Institute of Design, and still later a part of the Illinois Institute of Technology, on the building’s second floor.
Above is Zirlin’s shot of Randolph Street from the Randolph/Wabash L station. The movie named on the Oriental marquee is Desk Set with Tracy and Hepburn, dating this to 1957 or ’58.
These stories may lead me around the city, but I’ll always end up back home in Hollywood Park. Here’s (below) a look back at Hollywood Kiddieland after dark.
Credits: All photos, except second from top, courtesy of Allan Zirlin. Photo of 610 Fairbanks as it appears today is from Google Maps.