The Aragon Ballroom Use the slider to view the two photos
The Aragon Ballroom was the first structure I photographed for the Then and Now series, back in September 2013. Once a magnet for Chicago’s ballroom-dancing enthusiasts, it attracted tens of thousands to its big name, big band concerts. The area is now a mixed income, multi-ethnic neighborhood with both thriving and shuttered businesses just across the across the street, on the 1100 block of West Lawrence Avenue. Not much has changed of the venue’s façade, built in the Moorish architectural style in 1926, except the marquee and the corner business on the first floor. In the 1920s, the corner space was a sandwich shop and general store; in 2013, it was a daycare center. Having photographed this first building, I hoped future locations would also be easily compared and contrasted. This wasn’t to be the case.
Randolph and Dearborn streets Use the slider to view the two photos
The southeast corner of Randolph and Dearborn streets once housed the Apollo Theatre; shown here in 1923. Still, it wasn’t easy to tracking down this particular Apollo Theatre—there have been several such in Chicago. I knew it was located on the corner of Randolph and Dearborn, but which corner? On my first visit, I photographed the northeast corner – a McDonald’s restaurant. Then I thought it might have been at Randolph and State Streets. Next, an Internet search suggested the southwest corner of Randolph and Dearborn, now the site of the Richard J. Daley Center. Finally, some historical digging convinced an editor and me that the real location was the southeast corner of the intersection – which vanished into the long gestating Block 37 Project. The Apollo may be gone, but the nearby Oriental Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre and the Goodman still mark what Chicago night-lifers once knew as the “Theater District.”
Slider created using Northwestern University’s Knight Lab’s JuxtaposeJS@ChiTribGraphics