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Modern Historical Mysteries => Great Cities of the World => Topic started by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:33:11 pm



Title: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:33:11 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/OC-Logo-large.gif)

Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois

Old Chicago is nothing but a memory now but from 1975 to 1980 it dazzled millions of visitors and left it's mark on many of us.  Old Chicago was the first fully enclosed shopping center and amusement park and was way ahead of it's time.  These pages are a tribute to Old Chicago, the people behind it and the memories that many of us have from passing between the lions, walking it's streets and having the time of our lives in the Old Chicago Fairgrounds.

This is the one section of my website that I never want to stop working on because not only is it in a large part responsible for making me into a coaster enthusiast but because I want to keep Old Chicago's memory alive with more photos, memories, video and anything else that you might have to share from your times at Old Chicago as well. 

http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Index.htm


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:36:43 pm
Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
The Beginning

(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Robert-Brindle.jpg)

Here's Robert Brindle, the man behind Old Chicago showing off some of the plans and artist renditions for Old Chicago.

Robert Brindle was a real estate developer from California who built shopping centers.  On one trip to Knott's Berry Farm he thought that it'd be great to be able to have an amusement park where the temperature was perfect year round and it would never rain or snow.  He decided to mix an indoor amusement park with a shopping mall and the concept for Old Chicago was born.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:38:07 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Artists-Rendiion.jpg)

The Chicago area was decided upon for the mall and enclosed amusement park concept due to it's cold winters and that it was a major market without a major amusement park since Riverview Park closed back in the 1960's.

This is an artists rendition of the Old Chicago Fairgrounds, which is what Old Chicago's amusement park was called and themed after.  Most of the park turned out pretty much like it looks on paper but the mountain in the middle that both the Chicago Log Race (Log Flume) and Chicago Loop go through did not make the cut.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:38:56 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Weather-Letter.jpg)

Getting Old Chicago open was nothing short of a massive effort as Chicago's legendary cold winters were even worse during construction leading the project to go way over budget, a fact that would ultimately lead to it's downfall.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:39:46 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Aerial.jpg)

Looking at this aerial shot of Old Chicago some thirty years later it looks smaller than it was.  To me the reason it looks smaller is that we're now used to today's compact cars and in our mind scale the building according to that size.  But we probably need to scale it up ten or fifteen percent because that was 1975 when gas was cheep and cars were not just big but really big.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:40:50 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Aerial-Rear.jpg)

This isn't the best photo but it shows the whole property from the rear.  You have Old Chicago in the center with parking in front and on the sides.  The highway is Route 53 and across it is what was the Old Chicago Town Shopping Center which featured a K-Mart and a few other stores. 


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:41:52 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Invitation-2.jpg)

Here's the cover of one of the 15,000 invitations that was sent out for Old Chicago's grand opening on June 26, 1975.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:42:27 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Invitation-1.jpg)

It would have been fun to have been one of those invited to be the first to visit Old Chicago.  Even though I was not one of those I remember the magic and grandeur of my first visit.  It really was something special.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:43:20 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-With-Spotlights.jpg)

I remember the lights from Old Chicago's Grand Opening.  I was three at the time and we lived just a town over in Romeoville.  We all hopped in the car and fought our way through traffic to get a look at the area's newest attraction like everyone else in the surrounding area.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:44:03 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Entertainers.jpg)

Old Chicago's Mayor Charlie Brindle was out with all of Old Chicago's costumed characters including the Chicago Cub on the right for Old Chicago's Grand Opening.

Old Chicago sure started out big but like it's main attraction the Chicago Loop it was one rollercoaster ride after that.

http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-The-Beginning.htm


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:45:45 pm
Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
The Mall

(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/From-Expressway.jpg)

Most trips to Old Chicago started out with a view like this while heading to Bolingbrook on Interstate 55.  It's a little hard to see the dome but you can see how Old Chicago filled the skyline and was a memorable landmark.

My in-laws who used to live in Berwyn while my father-in-law was going to college said that they always knew they were getting close to home after heading down state to visit family when they saw Old Chicago filling the horizon.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:50:07 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Lions.jpg)

After exiting on Route 53 you pulled into Old Chicago's parking lot a few minutes later.  When you left your car behind Old Chicago's memorable lions greeted you as you entered the building.  The lions were actually replicas of the same lions that sit outside of Chicago's Art Institute.  The only difference was that Old Chicago's lions have tails that are tucked in so that they wouldn't brake off from the thousands of kids, like myself who made it a point to climb on them.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:51:14 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Mall-1.jpg)

Old Chicago was just a magical place especially to a child like I was when it was open.  There was this impressive building that just kept getting bigger and bigger the closer you got to it filling all of your vision.  Then there were the lions that you climbed on top of to pose for one of the countless photos taken of kids doing the very same thing.  You pushed the doors open with excitement building up more and more with every step and finally you were inside where you were surrounded with the sounds of people having fun, smells of good food and the sight of these hanging gardens above you.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:51:51 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Postcard-Old-Chicago-Mall-Entrance.jpg)

There was always a festive atmosphere at Old Chicago in it's early years.  In this postcard there's the Chicago Cub and Old Chicago Bears costumed figure as well as a balloon vendor.  Behind them is the Columbian House restaurant which only lasted a year before they closed down.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:53:20 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Postcard-Old-Chicago-Mall-Stores-2.jpg)

Old Chicago's Shopping Center was made not to look like a mall but to make you feel like you were walking down the streets of Chicago at the turn of the 19th century.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:54:18 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Postcard-Old-Chicago-Mall-Stores-1.jpg)


When it was full there were all sorts of stores in Old Chicago from a Hallmark Cards shop to other various stores.  Most of the stores were specialty shops with a few chain stores like Fayva Shoes.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:54:45 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Mall-2.jpg)


The Old Chicago Shopping Mall was sectioned off into different streets like this area which was the Water Street Market.   


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:55:35 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Biergarten.jpg)

This is the Biergarten Restaurant.  It was a fantastic place to eat and if you got one of the good tables you could look out over the Old Chicago Fairgrounds.

I have many fond memories of eating here.  My family would go every once in a while and one year for our T-Ball end of the season party was held here.

If you ever watched the Brian DePalma movie "The Fury" this is the restaurant where the Paratrooper gets flung through.  To see that bit from the movie check out my Old Chicago Videos page.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:56:21 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Shops-2.jpg)

Old Chicago went at great lengths to give the mall a nice atmosphere including getting replica streetlights of the ones that Chicago had at the turn of the century.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2010, 11:57:22 pm
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Shops-1.jpg)


Here's a photo of one of the shops that was in Old Chicago.  Yes it's a head shop filled with bong's, hookah's, pipes and other stuff that's supposed to be used for tobacco but let's be real here this stuff was used to smoke weed.  Do you know how I know this?  Well one of the gentlemen kneeling down and looking into the cabinet emailed me.  He was quite into pot back then but he turned out ok as he is now an accountant.

The shopping center part of Old Chicago was nice but looking back I wonder if it was not a huge mistake not to have any anchor stores like a Sears to bring in more people.  It was like they expected the amusement park to bring in the people to keep the mall going instead of visa versa like the wildly successful Mall of America or West Edmonton Malls who took the concept of Old Chicago and corrected this mistake.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:00:14 am
Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
The Old Chicago Fairgrounds

(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Park-Wide.jpg)

The entrance to the Old Chicago Fairgrounds like Old Chicago was grand itself.  After passing through streets of the mall you wound your way around to the back of the building where it all opened up into this majestic vista.  From there you had to walk down Old Chicago's circular ramps down into the Fairgrounds that sat a story below the mall level.



Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:01:20 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Chicago-Loop-1.jpg)

The Chicago Loop was the Old Chicago Fairground's star attraction.  Back in 1975 a rollercoaster indoors was a big thing and no one had ever seen one that looped as well.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:02:16 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Postcard-Old-Chicago-Loop.jpg)

The Chicago Loop was the second "Corkscrew" production model coaster that was made by Arrow Dynamics.  It was seventy feet tall and was 1250 feet long.

An amusing story about the Chicago Loop was that Marriott's wanted to use the name "Chicago Loop" for a coaster that they had in the plans for their under construction Great America park up in Gurnee.  Old Chicago beat them to the punch.  Great America's coaster was eventually named the Turn of the Century and later transformed into the Demon when they added two more loops to the ride.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:02:49 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Chicago-Loop-2.jpg)

The Chicago was the second modern looping rollercoaster and the first one east of the Mississippi.  No one in the area had ever seen anything like it and it really made quite an impression especially since it looped right over the midway.

With Old Chicago's limited space everything was right next to each other and in this later photo you can see the Toboggan coaster to the right.  Toboggans were made by Chance Rides and you used to find them at traveling fairs a lot back in the 1970's.  The lift is straight up in the middle of the tube.  When you got to the top you spiraled down before hitting a few dips at the end. 


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:03:26 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Game-Booth.jpg)

The sign for this booth reads "New Silver Satellites $1.50" so my guess is that this booth sold Mylar balloons which were kind of new back then.  To the left is the Old Chicago and to the right is the queue for the Old Chicago Log Race.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:04:16 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Postcard-Old-Chicago-Park.jpg)


The Old Chicago Log Race was the other big attraction at the Old Chicago Fairgrounds.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:04:49 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Log-Flume.jpg)

The Log Race was a log flume also made by Arrow Dynamics.  It featured a twisty dark tunnel and a thirty five foot lift and drop at the end of the ride.   


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:05:33 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Postcard-Old-Chicago-Log-Flume.jpg)

These days log flumes are pretty commonplace but the Log Race was really something to get excited about back then.  Plus it started out with a dark tunnel which I'm certain quite a few couples used as a "tunnel of love" in order to grab a few kisses.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:08:23 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Log-Flume-2.jpg)

Here's the Log Race after splashing down into the lake at the end of the ride.  You really didn't get too wet as in air conditioned Old Chicago it didn't get scorching hot like it can get outside during Chicago summers.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:09:00 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Log-Flume-2.jpg)

Here's the Log Race after splashing down into the lake at the end of the ride.  You really didn't get too wet as in air conditioned Old Chicago it didn't get scorching hot like it can get outside during Chicago summers.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:09:44 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Rotor.jpg)

The Rotor is basically a giant bucket.  You get inside it and it starts spinning as you're leaning on it's walls.  Eventually when the ride gets fast enough for centrifugal force to hold you in place the floor drops a few feet leaving you suspended there.

I'm not a big fan of the Rotor as I don't handle spinning things the greatest and watching it gave me motion sickness and I ended up hurling down into it making one heck of a mess and ending that trip to Old Chicago.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:10:37 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Postcard-Old-Chicago-Yo-Yo.jpg)

Swing rides like the YoYo are something that I can take without getting too sick and are really a lot of fun.  I loved sitting on this and letting go and putting my hands out and just flying.

To the left of the YoYo is the track for the Chicago Loop and behind the yellow and red striped area is where the Old Chicago Circus was.  In the distance is the Old Chicago Screamer in the center with the Trabant and Round-Up to the left of it.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:11:27 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Postcard-Old-Chicago-Enterprise.jpg)

The Screamer was a ride that is more commonly known as an Enterprise and still can be found at many parks and fairs. It was added in 1977 along with the Old Chicago Fun Factory area as the park's first big addition..


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:11:58 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Postcard-Old-Chicago-Games.jpg)

Like amusement parks all around the world Old Chicago let you have the chance, for a small fee of course to win a stuffed animal or some other sort of novelty from their many games.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:12:27 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Mrs-Oleary-Cow-Game.jpg)

I do happen to really like the Mrs. O'Leary's Cow game as it fits well into the Old Chicago theming.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:12:52 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Carousel.jpg)

Mayor Charlie Brindle, the Chicago Cub and some unnamed squirrel join this family for a go around on Old Chicago's Merry-Go-Round.   


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:13:24 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Car-Ride.jpg)

I'm not sure if that's Mayor Charlie Brindle or some other Old Chicago character joining these boys on this car ride that was made by Hampton.  I really love these rides.  Yeah they're simple but if you pressed the button they had a great honking sound that probably drove the ride operators nuts.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:15:17 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Monster-of-the-Midway-1.jpg)

The Monster of the Midway was the last ride to be added to Old Chicago.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:17:32 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Monster-of-the-Midway-2.jpg)

It's a little hard to see in this photo but the Monster of the Midway was a "Scrambler" type ride that was enclosed.  Lighting effects and loud music was added to give the ride a then unique experience.  What's kind of neat is decades later Six Flags Over Georgia did the same thing with their "Shake Rattle & Roll" ride.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:18:27 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Fun-Factory-Eagles-Nest.jpg)

The Fun Factory was added to Old Chicago in 1977.  Surveys found that Old Chicago did well with teenagers and adults but needed more for kids and the Fun Factory did just that. 


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:19:01 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Fun-Factory-Eagles-Nest-2.jpg)

The Eagle's Nest was a great thing to climb all over when I was a kid.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:19:48 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Fun-Factory-Jelly-Belly-Bouncer.jpg)

The Jelly Belly Bouncer was your standard "moon bounce" attraction where you get to run, roll and most importantly jump on a huge balloon.  I loved these as a kid.  Sadly they don't let adults into these as I know I'd still have fun on it.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:20:14 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Fun-Factory-Polliwog-Pond.jpg)

While the Jelly Belly Bouncer is running on a big balloon the Polliwog Pond was a huge waterbed that you could jump on and not get yelled at by your parents..


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:20:40 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Slide.jpg)


If you're going to have a kids play area you've got to have a slide.   


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:21:14 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Fun-Factory-Spiders-Den.jpg)


Most of the play structures in the Fun Factory were upstairs while the rides were downstairs.  I don't remember what the Spider's Den was so if you remember please email me so I can describe it here.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:21:38 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Fun-Factory-Ups-N-Downs.jpg)

I do remember the "Ups N Downs as it was basically a climbing structure that once you put your weight on it would rotate making it easier or harder on you to get to the top.

That's all that I have of the Old Chicago Fairgrounds.  If you have any photos, videos, memories or if I have anything that needs to be corrected please email me as I never want to stop adding to this section on Old Chicago.  My goal is to make it so that the memory of Old Chicago lives on.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:23:05 am
Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
Concerts & Events


In addition to having the Old Chicago Fair, a circus, shopping mall and a few restaurants Old Chicago throughout it's history brought in stars and musicians to play.

Here is a list by year of who came to Old Chicago:

1975

Bobby Rydell

The Ramsey Lewis Trio

The New Kingston Trio

Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders

Sally Rand  (the famous Fan Dancer who was 71 at the time)


1976

Buffalo Bob Smith (without Howdy Doody)

Susan of Sesame Street


1977

The Human Torch

 Superman and Lois Lane


1978


R2D2, Chewbacca, C3PO and Darth Vader

Bo Didley

Freddie Boom Boom Cannon

 Gary "US" Bonds

 The Coasters (How appropriate!)

 The Turks

 Rickie Havens

 The Shirells

 Harvey Mandell

 Blood, Sweat and Tears


1979

Chubby Checker

 Soap Operafest - Stars of General Hospital, One Life To Live, Ryan's Hope and All My Children

 Chuck Berry

 Willie Aimes (from Eight is Enough)

 Black Oak Arkansas

 Jan & Dean

Dr. Hook

Conway Twitty

 The Hudson Brothers

 Gloria Gaynor

 The Guess Who

 Ricky Nelson

 Tommy Jones

 The New Christy Minstrels

 Kingston Trio

The Ramones

Gary Puckett & The Union Gap Band

Commander Cody

Wild Cherry

The Four Tops


Unsure Of The Dates

Sha Na Na

Karl Wallenda

Little Richard

Jerry Lee Lewis

Anson Williams

Peter Tork & The Monkees

Rip Taylor

Marshall Brodien's Magic Show (Whizzo from Bozo's Circus)




Old Chicago Concert & Event Memories

I remember as a kid going to see Susan from Sesame Street and Darth Vader, R2D2, Chewbacca, and C-3PO.  I distinctly going up and giving Darth Vader a hug even though he was super menacing

A lady that I once worked with skipped school with her boyfriend to see the Ramones.  She told me that Old Chicago had set up chairs in front of the stage.  All of which were promptly folded up and set aside by the concertgoers so they could properly mosh to the Ramones.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:36:08 am
Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
How Did It Happen:  The Old Chicago Story

This article was originally printed in the Met on April 17, 1986

 

The year of 1973

In June of 1973, Robert Brindle brings a watercolor print of his proposed Old Chicago Towne to the Bolingbrook plan commission.

He proposes a 345,000 square foot complex that will include outdoor-type amusement rides ringed by stores. He promises to "put Bolingbrook on the map."

"We don’t expect any of the big merchandising giants here," says Brindle. Shops are to be of the specialty variety.

Brindle was negotiating during that spring with the village.

Bolingbrook and Romeoville vied for the development and tax money it would bring. Old Chicago would be south of I-55 and thought to be rightfully Romeoville’s according to the prevailing philosophy in the southern village at that time.

Purchase of an additional 200 acres to accommodate a hotel and golf course fell through.

 

The year of 1974

 January

Brindle brings the first of his building plans to the plan commission. But the building's foundation – without approval of the village – has already been laid in the fall of 1973.

The first of many legal troubles start as Brindle is told that his foundation exceeds setback requirements in the village code.

The village refuses to issue building permits. Brindle begs for zoning and approval of plans, saying that he can’t get any money from his financial backers without approval.

A new set of hearings is called. Brindle claims he’s used to building in Southern California where they get approval as construction continues.

May

The 15-foot wide, 40 ton wall sections are lifted into place by cranes – but still without approval of the village.

 

The year of 1975

 June 5

Dome dancer Michelle Mauthe, a Bolingbrook resident, dances in the drizzle for television cameras in a commercial.

June 6

The lions arrive to take up their guardian positions at the grand entrance of Old Chicago

June 17

Ten to sixteen thousand invited guests create mammoth traffic jams to attend a pre-opening party for Old Chicago. It takes half an hour to go from Boughton Road down Route 53 to the park.

With threats from the village and mayor Nora Wipfler, Old Chicago management is told it may not open on June 21. It is too dangerous with exposed wiring and half-completed storefronts.

Village officials find themselves in a no-win position: either allow "civilians to enter the building still under construction" or turn away thousands of guests that fill the parking lot and route 53.

June 26

An estimated 15,000 attend the two-day opening ceremonies following a last minute inspection by village officials. Construction crews work around the clock to pass inspection.

July 3

Village shuts down Old Chicago for six hours because of sprinkler malfunction. There are heated discussions between the Village and Brindle.

September

Brindle says that each weekend brings an average of 50,000 visitors to Old Chicago. Traffic snarls Rt. 53 all the way to Lisle.

Attractions include the Chicago Loop (Arrow Corkscrew), Rotor, Yo-Yo, Flume, Chicago Cat (Zyklon) Windy City Flyer, plus the International Circus and Vaudeville theatre.

Two restaurants serve Old Chicago: Columbia House owned by Frank Zaucha, owner of the new Lemont truck stop: and the Old Chicago Biergarten.

October

Village and Old Chicago management are at odds again over what the village says is reneging on the fire safety pact. Some 500 people are evacuated after a fire in the trash compactor. Park management complains that the fire department was overreacting to a relativity small fire.

Miss Teenage Chicago is crowned at Old Chicago

November

Old Chicago Post Office opens replacing the Osco substation. The new post office carries it’s own distinctive postmark.

The "Comedy King Of Air" 56-year-old Jimmy Troy falls 20 feet to his death from the trapeze in an aerial accident of the Old Chicago circus.

 

The year of 1976

 January

There’s a shake-up of Old Chicago management amid rumors of bankruptcy, just six months after the grand opening.

Brindle is on the way out. New management includes IC (Illinois Central Railroad) Industries.

May

Clyde Farman becomes the new general manager. There’s a note of optimism in the air.

Annual payroll for the park is in excess of $3.5 million.

The amusement tax is bringing the village some $200,000 to $300,000 each year plus $120,000 in sales taxes. In addition, Bolingbrook gets positive PR with its name in every Old Chicago ad.

June

The story behind the Old Chicago bankruptcy is detailed, including $8 million in construction cost overruns. Never less the general manager refers to the bankruptcy as "only a technical readjustment" and announces new attractions that will put Old Chicago on the right track.

Meanwhile, he is casting a watchful eye to the north, in Gurnee where the Marriott Corporation is just opening it’s new "amusement extravaganza" (now Six Flags Great America)

December

Fayva Shoes opens in the mall, but Columbian House restaurant closes.

 

The year of 1977

February

Village manager, Reed Carlson announces that Robert Brindle, who conceived and built Old Chicago, is "Completely out of the picture now."

Control of the giant complex now rests completely with IC Industries. That conglomerates representatives meet with retail merchants at Old Chicago and unveil plans for a major revamp of the amusement park area.

April

Old Chicago donates space to the Fountindale Theater Project, the local amateur theater group, to perform plays.

Summer

Opening hours are shifted. Features are added to attract more people, including psychic fairs, battle of the drums competition, graduation nights, family nights, antique shows, car and cycle shows, The Auccopolco High Diving Team, and the "Human Torch" who literally sets himself on fire.

July

The Bolingbrook Jaycees stage their third annual fireworks display at Old Chicago, accompanied by parachuters and midget racers.

Billed under the headlines of "Public Executions at Old Chicago" a desperate public relations gimmick promotes celebration of Bastille Day at the park with fun shows featuring "the rack", cat-o-nine-tails and other antique torture devices.

August

A new position is created that of "mall manager." He is Joseph Viliack, not to be confused with the new general manager, Cleveland Smith, of Wynne Enterprises, called in to revitalize and rehab, not to mention put more amusement into the amusement park. The mall manager’s mission: fill up the shop fronts.

Hollywood movie director Brian DePalma becomes the first person to try to demolish Old Chicago. While shooting a scene for his film "The Fury." DePalma and his special effects crews send a part of a ride (the paratrooper) crashing through the window of the Biergarten. Extras in the movie include several Bolingbrook residents who may be seen if you look closely at the two minute sequence that immortalizes Old Chicago in film.

September

Deejays John Landecker, Steve King and Bob Sirott host part of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy telethon at Old Chicago. Some $27,000 is raised at the park alone.

October

Old Chicago hosts the Pepsi Challenge, one of the first locations in the Chicago area.

November

The Fun Factory, a multi-level super play area for younger children, with it’s own separate admission fee and entrance opens as part of a $6 million park improvement program.

Also included in the improvements are colorful sound baffles hung under the dome to help prevent the deafening unpleasant noise of outdoor amusement rides operating indoors.

New rides include the Screamer and Barnstormer airplane thrill ride plus a laser light show.

 

The Year Of 1978

January

Following the $6 million revitalization of the amusement area, the mall undergoes new "zoning" to group specialty shops together under eight new themes.

May

The assessed valuation of Old Chicago is reduced by the states Property Tax Appeal Board, from $6.6 million to $4 million.

The reduction stems from an appeal by the owners that they are just barely surviving.

The tax reduction might help businesses, but local taxing bodies, especially the Valley View school district, is expected to be hit severely by the tax cut, and the district may take legal recourse.

Rumors also circulate that (the first) buyer’s negotiating for the purchase and rehab cost of $40 million.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:36:57 am
June

Jaycees have to defend themselves against citizen complaints about holding the annual fireworks display at Old Chicago. It’s not comfortable say residents, who also indicate that they don’t care to do anything that might also benefit the park. Jaycee President Tom Delaney answers that since Old Chicago picks up part of the tab, the Jaycees can put on a bigger fireworks show at the amusement park.

August

First of the shutdowns. Old Chicago is closed to the general public on Mondays and Tuesdays, though it can open for large groups such as company outings that rent the park for the day.

October

"Contrary to rumors, Old Chicago is not evicting its merchants or converting the facility into a sports complex." Says Dick Evans (Another new management person).

 

The Year Of 1979

February

A fire in the Old Chicago Tobacco Company is doused quickly after tobacco goes up in smoke as it is being dried by electric heaters. There are no sprinklers in the storage area where the tobacco is dried.

March

The management team rethinks the shopping mall. Namely all the stores are shifted to the front area near the entrance.

Meanwhile, management also denies low attendance during winter months, claiming that the concerts and discos keep bringing in the customers.

May

Another new game plan for Old Chicago, this time the suggestion that a bowling alley and theatres be added.

A management spokesman admits for the first time that amusement rides and shopping might not be compatible – thus the notion of adding more recreational kinds of facilities to the mall area.

July

The professional fireworks display that Old Chicago hires in lieu of the Jaycees blows up in their faces literally when a spark ignites all the bombs and bursts prematurely. Only one technician suffers first and second degree burns, in addition to minor injuries to a 6-year-old, but most of the crowd is safe behind barricades.

Admission to the Fun Factory is no longer cheaper. People have to pay the full freight to get into the park even if they just want to take their 5-year-old to the Kiddy Fun Factory.

 

The Year Of 1980

January

Old Chicago announces plans to construct new concert stage with a new three-way sound system for its "Live at Old Chicago" concert series. They want to "create a more acoustically-perfect sound system…" as if the concerts would go on forever.

March

OLD CHICAGO SHUT FOREVER

Work begins to dismantle the amusement rides. Shops can remain open for some time. Some will. Most won’t.

Foreclosure proceedings are filed by IC Industries actually against itself as a general partner of Old Chicago Towne Partners.

Officials say that the foreclosure and shutdown is a move to help sell the property for another use. In fact, negotiations with potential buyers have started, officials report.

An IC spokesman states that IC might be willing to take a loss of as much as $13 million to sell off Old Chicago.

May

"Largest Indoor Park Becomes Largest Discount Mall"

A contract to buy Old Chicago is signed to turn the world’s largest indoor park into America’s largest factory outlet mall.

Outlet mall investors, headed by Roy Cohn, board chairman of Webber Cohn and Riley advertising and public relations firm, promises 100 outlets of brand name goods. Sixteen companies have already requested leases, he says.

July

Former merchants of Old Chicago’s mall sue for $5 million in a 300-age lawsuit for money they will lose in sales during the time left on their leases at the mall and for the cost of relocating.

Some merchants had as much as 3 ½ years left on leases before being pushed out the door once the amusement park folded. Only four businesses remain in the hollowed mall halls: House of Jade, Super T’s Inc, Biergarten and Olde Chicago Styling Salon.

The village opposes suggestions to board up Old Chicago


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:37:24 am
September

Mid-America developers regretfully announce delays in opening their discount mall. Originally set to open in August of 1980, then September, then October, they now say not until April of 1981.

Rumors are denied that they can’t get manufacturers to sign on the dotted lines.

 

The Year Of 1981

January

The mall stalls. The April opening is postponed. The option by mall developers to buy Old Chicago actually expired at the end of 1980. There is no option renewal, though talk of some negotiations. Mall developers say some manufacturers are interested in becoming tenants, but what with high interest rates…tight money?

March

Mayoral candidate Terry Little whips off letters to everyone in the world who has anything to do with movies or who has ever seen a movie suggesting that Old Chicago be sold as a motion picture/TV production soundstage. He is successful in getting the state of Illinois film division to come by for a tour of the building.

June

Three dogged survivors, the last of the mall merchants, sue IC to keep the building open following an announcement by IC to shut the place down.

It’s costing $50,000 a month just to keep the utilities on, among other basic expenses, says IC, when it’s only collecting $450 a month in rent. Olde Chicago Styling is the only one paying rent. Other survivors include House of Jade and Biergarten.

Says Biergarten owner Hans Gliege, "Old Chicago may be broke, but IC is a big company and they are trying to chisel us, those of us who have all of our life savings invested here."

July

Old Chicago is ruled out as the Midwest headquarters for the Hollywood set. It won’t become a soundstage. The states film division says Old Chicago is 1) too expensive 2) too big 3) too far away from Chicago.

August

After several postponements Old Chicago is boarded up physically and legally and officially.

But IC Industries and village officials assure villagers that several developers, including Mid-America outlet mall developers are still interested in purchase.

The village’s economic development director, Barb Katterman says that boarding up is really not the end, but the next step toward getting a new use for the building.

The boards follow the official bankruptcy of Olde Chicago Towne Partners. The building is estimated to be worth $6 to $10 million, but has $65 million in liens against it, says one attorney.

Can Bolingbrook survive the Double White Elephant Whammy? Old Chicago teams up with Chrysler as seven metro car dealers hold a marathon sale, pushing 700 cars over one weekend on the grounds of Old Chicago.

Fall

Bolingbrook gets a Christmas present! OLD Chicago is sold!

Within eighteen months to two years away, say new option holders, Old Chicago will reopen – as something. They’re not sure quite what, but promise beacoup sales tax dollars for the village.

Buyers include A.T. LaPrade, Harold Friend and Roy R. Moore Jr. each of whom carry impressive credentials in either shopping center development, international sales, cattle breeding or selling tires.

Until the sale closes they’ll pay IC Industries an undisclosed amount in monthly rent on the closed building with purchase and rehab estimated to total $20 million.

 

The Year of 1982

January

Speculators looking for a place to establish a gambling casino in the state propose Old Chicago as a logical site. Meanwhile, the village remains confident that LaPrade and Associates will finalize their buy, but nothing comes of it.

February

Bolingbrook absolutely refuses to entertain the notion that Old Chicago becomes a gambling casino. "No, no, no!!"

April

"Retail Center" is all that anyone will say about the building’s future. Rumors are denied that the current buyers aren’t paying their monthly rent to IC.

June

Buyer Charles Woods of California has until the end of the month to pick up his option on Old Chicago.

In the meantime, the dome hits the auction block. Some 140 bid packets are mailed out, but the auction is cancelled when no qualified bids come in. Suggested opening: $5.4 million.

Summer

The village adopts a restrictive demolition ordinance to discourage talk by IC of tearing down the building. " We still want a buyer" is the village sentiment.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:39:16 am
October

Charles Woods quietly lets his option expire by not paying the $100,000 monthly rent to hold the building.

Reports of deteriorating roof and structural damage surface, particularly if IC decides not to heat the building over the winter, a move opposed by village hall.

November

Village demolition rules and regs are hauled out and new sections added that would make demolition cost-prohibitive. "Maybe this will make them think twice before demolishing Old Chicago, says Mayor Ed Rosenthal.

 

The Year of 1983

January

Demolition bids sit on the desks of IC officials, but a prospective buyer gives the building a stay of execution.

Mid-Winter

The fire protection system is turned off. A ticket is issued to IC by the fire department for code violation. The sprinkler system is not turned back on and is reportedly being dismantled.

July

A growing tide of sentiment rises to raze Old Chicago.

For the first time, village trustees show little interest in saving the building, but officials find themselves in a bind.

On the other hand, putting the building in dry dock by turning off the fire sprinkler system violates village codes. Resistance to dry-docking by the village may encourage demolition by IC.

Trustees Roger Claar and Jim Meyer say "Who cares?"

Mayor Ed Rosenthal says, "Why give anything up? It doesn’t cost the village anything to try to keep selling the building."

September

Two men are arrested breaking into Old Chicago. Police acknowledge a growing and persistent problem with vandals at the boarded up amusement park.

November

The continual problem with vandals leads to a proposal by IC to put barbed wire fencing around the property. It’s refused by the village’s ZBA, which doesn’t want the place to look like "Stateville North".

 

The Year of 1984

Winter

There’s no heat, except between IC, which wants to tear down the building, and the village, which is trying to delay demolition with the hopes of finding a buyer.

Literally dozens, if not hundreds, of speculators have toured the boarded up building over its closed years, but the village is gun-shy of announcing buyers in the wake of so many earlier disappointments.

June

A Missouri gentleman and land speculator specializing in "distressed properties", CL Carter, puts some money down, signs a purchase agreement with IC Industries and is introduced around the town with optimism. The undisclosed purchase price is estimated at close to $3 million, not much higher than the original price of the land alone. Carr does not say what he’ll do with the building, except to promise that it will be glittery – perhaps an entertainment capitol.

July

A shocked Bolingbrook learns that option-holder CL Carr is convicted of bank fraud in Arkansas, stemming from "sham loans" to get money in the manes of friends when Carr was not credit worthy.

No one in Bolingbrook knew about Carr’s legal problems and pending conviction on charges of bank fraud.

Other than "no comment", sources close to the Missouri land speculator say that Carr’s conviction will not stop the purchase of Old Chicago.

August

Despite a conviction for bank fraud, Carr is moving quickly to convert Old Chicago into useful property. Local developer Bill Palmer is his agent.

It seems that Carr’s plan is to demolish the building and subdivide the land. One car dealer is said to be interested in buying a piece of the land.

 

The Year of 1985

September

Car dealer Joe Levy buys a corner of Old Chicago property, thus sealing the prospect that the building will be leveled so the land can be sold for other things.

The property is officially labeled "blighted" by village ordinance. The land is worth more than the building, say officials.

The village acts as middle man in the sale, putting up some $300,000 so Levy can afford the property. Levy will repay the village its investment through credits for the sales taxes Levy’s auto dealership brings the village.

IC industries still owns the rest of the property, but CL Carr maintains that he’s still going to take it off the hands of the conglomerates.

January

The dome may not be doomed after all, says Bill Palmer. For six months every would-be buyer has talked of turning the building into an entertainment/assembly facility. "An indoor Poplar Creek" is one suggestion.

But no one has put up any money. CL Carr technically still holds an option on the building, but is not actively marketing the property.

June

The steady stream of prospective buyers no includes Elliott Glassner, owner of Keystone and Stroud realty companies.

The LDC says it won’t accept any buyer without a specific plan to turn the building into a convention center site that would attract hotels and related facilities. Glassner speaks of a warehouse operation and disappears.

July

Village and IC agree to demolish the dome. CL Carr has until July 31, 1985 to come up with the purchase price or the demolition orders are signed.

The site is to be cleared and ready to sell off in pieces.

August

The final attempt to sell Old Chicago fizzles. No option is picked up. While the sands run out, Old Chicago’s weathered carcass is being stripped of whatever portable values remain.

Mayor Bob Bailey salvages used Christmas tree decorations, the flume ride fountain and passels of souvenirs and equipment still left under the dome.

The lions escape the mayor, and end up at Bolingbrook Auto Center, still on property once part of Old Chicago.

November

Demolition is pending, but county board chairman John Annerino makes one more bid to save the building. He wants to sell it to the People’s Republic of China for an international trade center.

Annerino is taking former LDC president frank Rousseau with him to China to seal the deal.

December

Politicians intervene long enough to give John Annerino time to go to China and sell the property for a trade center, much to Mayor Bob Bailey’s dismay.

Annerino does not return with a signed contract and cash, but he claims to have a letter of intent from the Chinese to buy the building.

 

The Year 1986

January

John Annerino hopes to bring the 1992 World’s Fair to Will County and suggests Old Chicago as a possible site, while still contending that the People’s Republic of China also wants to buy it.

A week later, the village signs the actual demolition order.

February

Village hosts a "media event" to persuade the world that demolition of Old Chicago is a fresh start.

A model depicting hypothetical development of property with a variety of uses is shown by the LDC, but there are no "hot prospects".

John Annerino nearly steals the thunder from the village by showing his letter of intent from the Chinese to the television cameras.

To convince Annerino that no one is willing to listen to his suggestions, an exterior wall is knocked down on the building, denying its use for anything, once and for all.

March

Piles of rubble grow along Rt. 53 just south of I-55 as Old Chicago’s walls tumble.

April

The dome quietly sinks into the sunset with absolutely no fanfare.

By the end of the month, not a trace of the former amusement park remains but memories.

http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-History.htm


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:40:00 am
Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
Closing Down

(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Closing-Letter.jpg)

On March 17, 1980 it was all over for Old Chicago.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:41:14 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Empty-Interior.jpg)

Soon after there was little left of the Old Chicago Fairgrounds.  All of the rides were auctioned off and all that was left, besides the fiberglass acoustic squares that were hung from the ceiling to reduce Old Chicago's noise problem, was a big empty space where so many great memories were made.

In the center of this photo is all that was left of the Old Chicago Log Race.  They took everything ,even its tunnel.  In the distance behind the Log Race is the platform that housed the Old Chicago Fun Factory.  To the right of that are the ramps that took you from the mall down into the Fairgrounds.

The Chicago Loop ended up going to the Alabama  State Fairgrounds before it finally ended up at Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire where it is now known as the Canobie Cannonball.  The Log Flume was sold to Fair Park in Dallas, TX.  The rest of the rides ended up at various parks and traveling fairs.



Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:42:56 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Closed-1.jpg)

After the Fairgrounds closed the few remaining stores were moved up to the front of the building but Illinois Central Industries decided to shutter Old Chicago ending it all in August of 1982


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:43:59 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Closed-2.jpg)

Alone, without the crowds passing between them Old Chicago's lions stood guard over what was left of a dream.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:44:43 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Shops-3.jpg)

Years passed by, various plans were proposed but eventually nothing came out of them.  Here is a shot of the mall sometime shortly before the demolition began.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:45:18 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Shops-4.jpg)

I'm not sure what this pre-demolition photo is of?  Maybe it was the remains of the Windy City Disco Movement or the Columbian House Restaurant.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:46:14 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Closed-3.jpg)

Eventually, just like the Fairgrounds the vultures set upon the mall stripping everything out of it the only thing left to do after all of the plans evaporated and no one else cared to invest in the dream that was Old Chicago it was time for it all to end.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:47:29 am
Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
The End


After Old Chicago closed it sat for years empty and unused.  There were various plans floated from using it for the Worlds Fair, turning it into an Outlet Mall, using at as a motion picture soundstage, making it a Trade Expo for China or an indoor concert venue but none of these plans ever came together.  The last event at Old Chicago was not in the building itself but foreshadowed the future a bit when in August of 1981 the Chicagoland Chrysler Dealers had a huge car sale in the parking lot.

From that point until 1986 there was a lot of talk about what to do but no real action.  So in February of that year the demolition of Old Chicago began.

Here are photos of the demolition of Old Chicago.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:47:51 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-1.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:48:17 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-15.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:48:41 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-6.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:49:02 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-5.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:49:27 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-14.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:49:50 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-2.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:50:13 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-3.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:50:31 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-8.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:50:59 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-18.jpg)

After demolishing the mall section of Old Chicago the demolition began of the heart of the whole complex, the Old Chicago Fairgrounds.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:52:40 am
Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
The End


Old Chicago's dome was a landmark along Interstate 55 for eleven years.  After demolishing the mall, the dome was next to go.  Sadly I do not have any photos of it coming down but here are a few photos of the rest of the demolition of Old Chicago.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:53:25 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-4.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:54:08 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-7.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:54:33 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-9.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:54:54 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-10.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:55:16 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-11.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:55:39 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-12.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:55:59 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-16.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:56:18 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Demmolition-17.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:56:40 am
In the end all that was left of Old Chicago was loaded up into trucks and taken off to the scrap heap.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:59:16 am
Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
Old Chicago Today

(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Where-it-used-to-be.jpg)


Back when Old Chicago was built there really wasn't much around it.  Most of Bolingbrook sat on the other side of the Interstate and other than the strip mall and movie theater across the street and a few warehouses there was nothing around Old Chicago but farmland.  These pictures are from the late 1990's and even between now and then the area has seen a drastic change.  I drove through the area earlier this year (2008) and couldn't recognize anything.

 For example where my family got stuck in the middle of nowhere in our Suburban back in the legendary blizzard of '79 a mile West of Old Chicago now has an exit to the Interstate and there are businesses, gas stations and shopping malls as far as the eye can see.  It reminds me of the Pretenders song "My City Was Gone":

I went back to Ohio
But my pretty countryside
Had been paved down the middle
By a government that had no pride
The farms of Ohio
Had been replaced by shopping malls
And muzak filled the air
From Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls
Said, a,o, oh way to go Ohio


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 12:59:49 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/OldChicagoSatImage.jpg)

Here's a satellite image of Old Chicago's site from Google Earth as it sits today as a car dealership.  The "T" shaped building is where Old Chicago was and the dealership uses Old Chicago's parking lot on the north, east and south sides of their building with the parking lot to the west added on at a later date.

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, or more accurately a car dealership.

The Chicago Loop now sits in Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire as the Canobie Cannonball.  The Old Chicago Log Race is not the log flume at the Texas State Fair.

Old Chicago Amusement Park Today


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:01:04 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Street-Sign.jpg)

All that's left of Old Chicago is just a street sign and our memories.

 

http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Today.htm


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:03:26 am
http://www.youtube.com/index?ytsession=ez5RNh4VjeK3OTYJqVvdmvZfIsrCL2z268W_LHN5icpSCpqlz8npOxOxL-PDH4RFKbMTmA727Xq9Az5JF5znLq-x8yVlYBZGE-5UxlBjIfxsZK7oaR4u4yVzd5W0WacrcsO42fecRYXcaQ7wXtHwtzMvKFg3ass4EHvskSL0x3CQPIS6yKhgKh4eMfnKzBBwiCmBKF7qvyOFLST6WeTAtyzVDtqcCJs3zDTdn_ktPa1Uj7K0bVdZq2gAQ5_0k_a7sV9lpUlI5xcAy0i9-R3XFrT8wqiQqi1yE7dqOM6pVROztW8d9pe8099lDGvis6aMJQ22nZNtQhu3os4DGulBQx_lG9Jlkpj8nflFcHShd3e0BYFCK-tLDTvOHj8Hq3v2pm-JQu5LeoU

Here's video of Old Chicago from Brian DePalma's movie "The Fury".  The movie was a thriller that came out in 1978 about a teenager with telekinetic powers that the CIA wants to use for assassinations.  To kind of explain this clip in the beginning of the movie the boy's father is killed; or so he thinks by Arab terrorists.  He is then taken by the CIA and  and is being manipulated to their bidding.  His minder, who he is in love with takes him to Old Chicago.  While there he sees her with a couple of other men and leaves in a jealous rage.  He then heads for the amusement park where his powers do some damage including sending a Paratrooper car of Arab men flying into the Biergarten Restaurant.

I remember a bit of the filming as we paid a visit to the park during it.  Also I remember that we sat several times in the Biergarten looking out on the Old Chicago Fairgrounds at that table several times for dinner before and after the filming of "The Fury".

http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Videos.htm


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:05:27 am
Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
Memories

Here are some of the memories of Old Chicago that have been sent to me.  To add yours please email me and I'll add them as well.

 

I just stumbled upon your site and it has brought back many memories.

I remember that Marshall Brodien had a magic shop at Old Chicago. He's the same Marshall Brodien who went on to be Whizzo the Wizard on the Bozo T.V. show. He was also the magician who appeared in many commercials selling his T.V. Magic Cards. He sold the shop to Billy Bishop, another Chicago area performer and magician.

I had just worked with Jimmy Troy, the performer who fell to his death in Old Chicago, a few weeks earlier at a shopping mall outside of Milwaukee. Clyde "Buddy" Farnum, former manager, is still around. I think he lives in New York state somewhere.

I once auditioned for a television commercial that was shot at Old Chicago. The camera crew began setting up for the commercial after the park was closed. The park was transformed into an old county fair grounds with sawdust on the floor and all the amusement rides as a background. The commercial was for a soft drink called "Quirst." "Quence your thirst with Quirst" was the slogan. I appeared as a clown among a group of children. With special effects, a can of "Quirst" was beamed from a spaceship right into my outstretched hand as the children looked on in anticipation for their treat of the soft drink.

We shot the commercial over two week-ends from very late until the early hours of the morning. I eagerly awaited the commercial to air but unfortunately the makes of Squirt, filed an injunction over the similarities of the two names-Quirst and Squirt. The judge ruled in favor the Squirt and the commercial never was aired. I got paid for the two nights work but was very disappointed that the commercial never aired and I never got paid the "resididuals." Those payments that come to a performer every time the commercial gets shown on T.V. I do however still have one can of "Quirst" as a reminder of those two special nights spent at Old Chicago.  - Donald W.

Being from nearby Lemont, I remember going there several times as a teenager. I never went into the amusement park area, because the plain cement floor and lack of sky made it seem too sterile and unnatural. The constant loud, discordant noise from this area was also discouraging.

I did, however, enjoy walking through the mall with my friends. I was always intrigued by the detail of the storefronts and how well designed everything seemed, especially those nearer the front entry. I also recall the entryway, with its "hanging gardens" (large brass-type fixtures that contained draped ivies, hung at varying heights and intervals). At the time, I thought they were among the most beautiful things I had ever seen, and to this day, I have had hanging ivies in every place I've lived. I was also impressed by the "cobblestone streets", and wondered at the time how long it took to build them, with what must have been hundreds of thousands of individual stones. Now, they are all probably in a landfill somewhere.

The only store that I seem to recall is a Wendy's restaurant in one of the mall "corners". I remember that it had a unique second floor eating area that you reached from a spiral staircase. The eating area looked out over the mall area, and you could sit in it and watch people walking through the mall. I would go to Old Chicago just to eat there. I believe it was the first Wendy's in the Chicago suburbs.

I remember driving there with a friend one evening, in summer of 1978, only to find just a handful of cars in the enormous parking lot. We turned around and went home. That was the last time I saw Old Chicago "alive".

Once it was boarded up, I expected -- as did most people -- that it was just a matter of time before it would reopen. When we saw the walls coming down, it was quite a shock. Now the area nearby is festooned with cement warehouses as big or bigger than Old Chicago was. The site itself is a series of car auctions and auto sales centers.

Long before we met, my husband worked on the subdividing of the Old Chicago property after its demolition, and he says that by then, all that was left was a big hole in the ground.  - Reja

I grew up in Downers Grove, and now I'm married with 2 kids living in Woodridge . . . so we're still in the area . . . and my heart still skips a beat every time I see the damn, huge "auto" place there now, (where they hold the car auctions). It makes me sad - but I still remember that building standing there . . . with all the magic inside!!

What I haven't seen on the internet, nor your site on Old Chicago, is something called (if I remember correctly), "The Four Seasons" ride. It was a ride, kinda tucked in the back corner, next to the smaller roller coaster . . . it was on a track that took you through winter, spring, summer and fall. (I remember loving that ride for some reason!) Anyone ever write to you about that?

ALSO, I remember seeing SEVERAL concerts there . .. I remember seeing Ricky Nelson there . . . and Willie Aames . . . and I KNOW I saw others too . . . I'm a few years older than you from what I gather in your articles, I was 9 when it opened and 14 when it closed . . . . and I got my first kiss there! I think there was also a part near the back area (on the complete opposite wall of the entrance), where they showed old movies - like black and white stuff, Charlie Chaplain, Three Stooges, etc. . .. but that is such a DISTANT memory . . . it's so vague!!

ANYWAY - SORRY, I don't have one picture of those old days . . . SO wish I had . . . but it was GREAT seeing all the ones you displayed, and the pictures of the old stores, as well!! (I remember a poster store in there too - as "Saturday Night Fever" was huge back then - and we were always looking at the Bee Gees posters, Shawn Cassidy posters, etc.!! LOL!!) I remember a "Fortune Teller" machine too - which was really cool to us kids, sitting out in one of the dark corners of the mall area!! I DID see a picture of her on another site one time . . . so it's out there!!

Well, I didn't mean for this to be a novel!! Sorry!! You just touched upon one of my FAVORITE childhood memories . . . and I got on a roll!!  - Pam

I just found your website and it brought back some great memories.  I lived in the south suburbs of Chicago and went to Old Chicago probably 5 or 6 times before it was torn down.  I was amazed that the park didn't make it, as it did ease the cold winters of Chicago.  Seeing the site reminded me that there was some film footage shot there in the movie "The Fury" from the late 70's.  I don't know if you knew about it.   - Dave W.

You can see the Old Chicago section of The Fury on the Old Chicago Videos page.

Loved your Old Chicago website!

I've been reminiscing lately.  I remember seeing Willie Aames and Paradise at Old Chicago, back in 1979.  How I loved him.  I think Alicia Bridges was performing there the same night too, before Willie Aames - I never heard of her but I liked "I Love The Night Life" that she sang the night that I saw her.  My favorite ride was The Four Seasons where it would get cold when you rode past winter.  I remember the old cobblestone streets throughout the mall and the Old Fashioned Wendy's (when they had the old ads on the tables).

Thanks for posting all those pictures on your website!  I loved browsing through your site.  What great memories!  - Debbi



Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:06:39 am
From 1974 - 1980 I lived in Downers Grove and Old Chicago was a couple miles down I-55 in Bolingbrook. In addition to working in the games department in the summer of 1979, I went to Old Chicago many times.

My most fond memories of Old Chicago are of the Windy City Disco Movement. It was the only place around where teenagers could go to dance to the latest disco music. It had a great dance floor. I took many dates there. It was located in the southwestern corner of the amusement park.

There was a bookstore that always carried the latest issue of Billboard magazine - not easy to find, especially in the suburbs. Being a diehard music chart follower, this required frequent trips down there before I could afford the pricey subscription.

And of course there were the rides. The Chicago Loop, there was a Tilt-a-Whirl and a Scrambler though I'm sure they had different names, and the Enterprise.

I now live in Minneapolis/St Paul and only seven miles away from me is the Mall of America. Every time I'm there (frequently with 13 and 12 year old daughters), I remember Old Chicago. Because in many ways, Old Chicago was the predecessor to the Mall of America. It was the same idea, but without anchor stores, it couldn't survive. But my Old Chicago memories will always survive. And they are all good!   - John J.

I enjoyed reading your page on Old Chicago. One question! The ride that you call The Enterprise, the one that went around in a circle as it rose until you were just about upside down, wasn't that ride called "The Windy City"? I had very specific memories about that name and of course the Chicago Loop, as they were my first rides of their kind.   -Laura Smith

I believe it was called the Windy City Screamer.  I called it the Enterprise because that is the name that the manufacturer of that type of ride called that model.  Thanks for reminding me and it has been changed.



I went to Old Chicago many times. I remember that a friend of mine won tickets from the Loop for New Year's Eve. we had so much fun there. I was little for my age and they didn't want to let me on the Chicago Loop, but since my dad was with me they let me. I don't remember that much else about it though, but I do remember that right next to the ticket booth there was a novelty shop that sold all kinds of crazy stuff, & we bought fake dog poop there for our teacher's birthday.  - Annette M.

I have fond memories of Old Chicago. That was were I got my first job in 1977 at the one and only game that was upstairs “Fascination”. It was tic tac toe with balls that you would roll up to the top of a machine and they would fall in a hole and light up a screen on the front of the machine it was twenty-five cents per game. I worked with a guy there named “Justo”, don’t know whatever happened to him. You would win tickets and you could turn them in for prizes (like the now Haunted Trails/Chucky Cheese).

I moved from that game to the amusement park office downstairs. I worked with Greg Rice and a Mr. Brandolino. I met some of the stars that came to put on concerts – the big ragu (Laverne and Shirley), Peaches and Herb and a few others.

I could hear the “Loop” the roller coaster going and when it jumped the track and got stuck on the top just before it would go down the first hill, I would get several calls from workers that said “Loops jumped”. I would have to call maintenance and the manager on duty to go and check it out.

My brother Richard worked there as well as a game manager. I also met my first husband there William Carlson, he ran the rides. I had a lot of fun at that place and was very sad when it closed down so soon after I started working there. The memories will never be forgotten.  - Renee L.

I remember going to Old Chicago a few times and loved it. We went there on a Saturday when Karl Wallenda walked the tightrope near the dome during a weekend engagement. I was disappointed on its closure but realize it was very much a product of its time period, yet I feel it will eventually be regarded as ahead of its time as well.  - Myron J.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:07:17 am
I went in August of 1976 to the park so I'm sure some things changed. But here is what I remember:

After entering the park (which you entered by going down spiral concrete ramps that led from the mall level to the park level) I will describe the rides I remember in a Clockwise fashion. Obviously there were probably more "flat" and kiddee rides than I remember. But any of the big things I remember because my brother and I went on them.

If you looked into the park directly from the ticket booths the first ride in front of you was the Log Ride. It was a rather short ride and the water channels were made of cement instead of fiberglass which I remember as being weird. The ride was kinda boring; it meandered around and ended in a small hill (probably only about 25 ft). To the left of the log ride was the Chicago Loop which was the Corkscrew coaster. This was a standard Arrow model but since it was enclosed it made a really "neat" noise when it travelled on it's circuit.

Working around the outer circle (which the park was laid out in) the next ride was the Enterprise. This ride was placed directly against the wall; when the ride was elevated to its peak it was parallel w/ the exterior glass wall that separated the amusement park from the mall. I remember riding this since it was my first Enterprise and it actually scared me back then. The next ride on the circle (and it was directly behind the Chicago Loop) was a Chance Yo-Yo. Walking past this there was a large food stand and I believe some kind of show stadium. The next thing on the circle was "The Cat" rollercoaster. I remember it being flush against the wall and I remember it having the longest line we encountered all day. The only other ride I remember was a dark ride that was called "The Four Seasons". It was extremely lame as I remember. But what was neat was that the entrance to the ride was flush w/ the amusement park wall. In other words the track traveled under what must have been the walkway for the Mall. The day we went to the park it wasn't crowded at all and we did most everything in about 3 hours.

I remember thinking the layout seemed odd since a couple of ride entrances would be close together and then there would be patches of dead area filled w/ food shops and game booths. Something I read about in articles about the park and something I experienced at that time was the weird noises that the rides generated and that the indoor park contained. In the last few years of the park major bucks were spent (apparently) on sound dampers. When we visited it wasn't that all the rides were noisy. Rather the just echoed in a really strange way. The sound from the Chicago Loop was so distinguishable that you could tell exactly where the train was on the coaster even if you didn't look just by the "pitch" of the sound. I don't know any other way to explain this but I would be interested to hear if anyone else remembers this.   - Christopher

I remember Old Chicago.

 Only visited a few times. In retrospect, I remember the park did have some cool names of rides. In addition to the Chicago Loop, I thought the Crash of '29 was a neat name for the bumper cars. I also remember the Four Seasons dark ride which I liked a lot. Seem to remember a YoYo as well. I remember getting sick on the Rotor, one of the very few times I got sick at a park. Took a rest and then went on the Tilt a Whirl and got sick again. Pretty stupid.

I remember they had these funny box like things hanging from the sky. Supposedly to dampen noise. The sky or lack there of was a negative. Wish they had skylights like Camp Snoopy at Mall of America. For an indoor park, that one does a good job of making you feel like you are outdoors, almost. Interestingly, the site still attracted me years later.

My two passions in life are parks and cars. I've been back several times for classic car auctions (the site is now a car auction), and in my brief stint as a car dealer, have been there to buy and sell. Still wish it was a park though, and better yet, wish some of the other outdoor parks in Chicagoland had survived.   - Jim W

I visited Old Chicago in my youth. I believe I went two times. I think the first time was still while the park was in full swing, and the second was when it was in decline.

I don't remember much for sure--my impressions were very vague--but I seem to recall the park not being very crowded on my second visit. I don't remember the rides very well. I know they had a flat ride that I liked a lot. I think it was called the Bobs (I had no idea that there might be a coaster association with this name), and consisted of tubs that swung out freely as the ride went around on a track with some hills. Geauga Lake has one of these called the Yukon Yahoos, and Cedar Point also has one, possibly called Matterhorn. I loved this ride at the time.

I don't really remember the coasters clearly at all. I have the impression the Corkscrew got very close to the roof, but I don't really remember the ride experience at all. Oddly, the one thing I remember clearly is when a guy at the dunking booth was trying to get me to play by calling me "four eyes." This was located on one wall of the park area, along with some other games. This is when I remember the park not being very crowded, because there weren't too many other people for him to make fun of as we walked by. It's really the only visual memory I have of the place now, unfortunately.  - Dave S.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:09:34 am
Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
My Old Chicago

My fascination with Old Chicago began in a field back in the spring of 1975.  The field was Clow International Airport in Bolingbrook which back then was just a grass strip that Cessna's and Piper Cubs flew in and out of.  I guess it was an "international" airport because someone once flew to Canada from there.  The airport was hosting a fly in where people could walk around and check out the planes.  I was three at the time and my Dad was always into aircraft so we ended up out there walking around the planes.

At the end of the field was something that changed my life.

It was the lead car to the Chicago Loop rollercoaster.  In the bright spring sun it glowed as if it were made of solid gold.  It sat on a couple of pieces of wood with a little sign next to it promoting the soon to open Old Chicago Amusement Park and Shopping Center.

The car pulled me in as if it were a magnet.  It was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen and just couldn't get enough of it.  I crawled into the seat and pulled the over the shoulder harness down and grabbed a hold of them for the ride of my life.

My Dad tried to get me to come and look at some of the planes with him but who wants to see boring old planes when you had this futuristic looking thrill machine for you to put your hands all over.  He was fighting a loosing battle and he knew it.  So he went on to look at the planes and I spent the rest of the afternoon crawling all over and under the car.

My life changed that day.  Getting to see and touch a coaster in addition to growing up hearing family members, especially my Mother tell tales of the long gone Riverview Park and it's legendary terror machine The Bobs turned me into a lifelong roller coaster enthusiast.  When I got home that day my scribbles with crayons changed.  No longer were I drawing houses or our dog but they turned into loops drops and turns of the coasters that filled my mind.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:10:21 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Chicago-Loop-2.jpg)

By the time Old Chicago opened later that year my family life was not the greatest.  My parents were going through a nasty bitter divorce and the man who later would become my step-father moved in.

We'd drive up Route 53 every once in a while headed wherever and I always remember seeing the massive hulk that was Old Chicago.  The closer opening came I remember the electricity about it was everywhere.  The excitement was so much that even I as a three year old vividly remember it all even when my memories of the rest of my life then seem pretty hazy all these years later.

One night all of a sudden there were these huge columns of light filling the sky that we could see from afar. To a three year old it was a sign from heaven.  We all hopped in the car and headed to Bolingbrook to take a look at the grand spectacle.  The traffic was horrendous and it took forever to make the trip that was only a few miles.

Eventually we got to Old Chicago but there was no way we'd ever get in as the crowds were just too much.  Still I remember that huge building all lit up with the dome towering so high in the sky it looked like a close second to the Sears Tower in my mind.  The place was just so big it was hard to comprehend.

We worked our way through the traffic and eventually worked our way home with me all the way staring out of the back window at the columns of light that filled the sky above Old Chicago.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:11:36 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-With-Spotlights.jpg)

Eventually we made it through the throng of traffic that once in a while on the weekends even backed up on Route 53 past Dover Avenue in Romeoville where I lived.  Like I said elsewhere in this site Old Chicago was pure magic when I visited.  It was grand and magnificent on a daunting scale.

When you walked past those lions and through the doors it was like going back in time.  I remember the feel of the cobblestone, the glow of the streetlights the smell from some cookie shop, the roar of the Chicago Loop off in the distance and the feeling of electricity that filled the place.  It was almost more excitement than I could handle and that was even before we wound our way to the entrance of the Fairgrounds.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:12:10 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Park-Wide.jpg)

The mall section had a very closed in feeling.  It really was like you were walking down a small street that was lined with shops so you got used to being closed in.  With that in mind when you reached the Fairgrounds and it's massive indoor space it was more than a wow.  It left you breathless.

It was hard walking down those ramps.  Not because they were steep or slippery because I just wanted to run.  Old Chicago was to me at that time the worlds biggest playground and I wanted to go play.

We visited Old Chicago often.  We didn't always visit the park but whenever I could I walked up to it's entrance and gazed out upon this wonderland.

The Chicago Cat was my first rollercoaster and it seemed to me like the cars could fall off the track as we zipped around it's turns.  The Chicago Loop was more than a little bit impressive to watch.  I used to sit right under it's corkscrews and watch it go overhead.  It seemed like it went so high it almost touched the roof and what I remember of the time that I rode it was looking up as we went through the corkscrew and seeing Old Chicago's floor above me.

The Four Seasons ride was one of my favorites.  I have real vague memories of what it's actual story line was.  It took you thorough the four seasons of the year and my memories are of the winter section where it was suddenly cold and there was an ice covered pond and snow everywhere.

There were a few shows at Old Chicago but the Circus was the most memorable one for me.  The circus was nice but what I remember most about it was that the Chicago Loop wrapped around the back of the bleachers.  I always sat up at the back and always waited for the next time the coaster to speed by every couple of minutes.   

When Old Chicago opened the Fun Factory play area we visited the park quite a bit more as you could pay to just enter that area and it was quite a bit less expensive than a trip into the Fairgrounds as a whole.  You could run, crawl and climb all over the whole thing as it was a massive playground.  I loved the big punching bags that you could run through and bash into each other with.

Once in a while my Mom would take my sister and me to Old Chicago on a week day when the park was empty.  She'd pay for the two of us to get in and then take a seat near the entrance and just let us go play.  We'd go hit the Fun Factory and the Four Seasons but often we'd go and marathon on the Old Chicago Log Race.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:13:33 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Log-Flume-2.jpg)

The Log Race was a really fun log flume.  It started out with a long twisting tunnel that we'd always shriek or make noises in.  Eventually you'd emerge from the darkness and head up it's lift hill before plunging into the little lake at it's bottom.  You really didn't get that wet on it but you didn't need to as Old Chicago was always a nice warm temperature even if it was below zero outside.  We were instructed to look up at Mom every once in a while and eventually she'd wave us to come to her therefore ending our riding the Log Race over and over.

My last visit to Old Chicago was with a couple of friends.  It was in early 1980 and I was eight years old.  Jack Alvarado, Scott Peterson and I rode our bikes to Scott's Grandparents house which sat on I-55's frontage road a short distance from Old Chicago.  After we visited them for a while we headed for Old Chicago.  We rode up to the massive building with hardly a car in the parking lot and leaned our bikes onto one of the lions pedestals and went into Old Chicago.

There were very few stores left in the mall as we walked around to take a look at the park.  It was a ghost town and outside of the very few employees  we were the only people there.  Old Chicago was dying.  We made our way to the entrance of the Fairgrounds and didn't even see a soul there.  We thought about just walking into the park but really didn't want to get into trouble so we just looked down on the still park.

I remember standing there looking from ride to thinking about all the fun times that I had there.  I remembered the Log Race marathons with my sister, climbing around in the Fun Factory, watching the floor become my sky while going through the Chicago Loop's corkscrews and I remembered most importantly that Old Chicago was a place that even though my family life was hellish and it seemed that no one loved each other, we became a family at Old Chicago.

We stood there for a little while longer then turned our backs and walked away.

 We eventually moved out of the area but every once in a while I'd find myself going through Bolingbrook, whether going to the water slide that once sat across I-55 from it's hulking remains or to visit friends who still lived in Romeoville.  Each time I saw that building it brought back my memories.

The last I saw of Old Chicago was early in 1986.  I was onboard a buss headed to Springfield  for the Lisle Jr. High 8th grade trip.  We left well before sunrise and by the time we reached I-55 the sun was just peaking over the horizon.  I remember sitting in the back of the buss and looking back toward Old Chicago.  The dome no longer towered over the plains but instead was a huge pile of debris silhouetted by the rising sun of a new day.

Goodbye old friend, goodbye Old Chicago.   

 


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:16:21 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/ReaderContribution/OCBGCard.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:17:27 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/ReaderContribution/Old%20Chicago%20Photo%20with%20Liz-dave%20moorehead.jpg)

Dave Moorehead sent me this portrait of him and his sister Liz that was taken in Old Chicago's Old Time Portrait Studio.  Since portraits like this were pretty popular back in the 1970's I'm sure there are almost as many photos like this filling photo albums as there are photos of kids sitting on top of Old Chicago's famous Lions.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:18:09 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/ReaderContribution/OC-Patch.jpg)

Old Chicago patch.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:18:47 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/ReaderContribution/OC-Security-Patch.jpg)

Old Chicago security patch


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:19:48 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/ReaderContribution/Valerie-Picture.jpg)

I'm certain there are thousands of similar photos like this one as everyone who visited Old Chicago had to go and climb on top of the lions out front. This photo is from Valerie who is second from left in this photo. I'm not certain but I hear that Old Chicago's lions live on at some car dealership in the Chicago area. If anyone has any information on their whereabouts I'd love to know where they are so please email me.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:20:10 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/ReaderContribution/OC-Folder-1.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:23:16 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Ticket-1.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:23:50 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Ticket-2.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:24:36 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Button.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:25:19 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/ReaderContribution/OC-Patch.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:26:01 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Glass.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:26:29 am
(http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chiicago-Poster-1.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 01:27:17 am
http://negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-Tickets.htm


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 10:55:43 pm
Photos of Old Chicago Indoor Amusement Park Bolingbrook IL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwAeK5R9z2Y


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 10:56:48 pm
Radio Commercial *Rare* Old Chicago Bolingbrook IL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8ro9weGtKo


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 10:58:22 pm
old chicago amusement park

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0InNa4G79_w


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:00:06 pm
BlueIslandGirl (2 months ago)

A friend of mine had a job as one of the "monsters" in the haunted house. He was in costume, but it still hurt his dignity to have to do what they said to do to scare the patrons. He wanted to be classier than that. Speaking of class, when they first built Old Chicago, they wanted to buy the 2 lions from the front of the Art Institute. I'm glad the Art Institute didn't sell.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:00:28 pm
devtrev (2 months ago)

I remember when it first opened I got to meet Vincent Price there - he was signing autographs at the entrance to the haunted house. - very cool. If I remember correctly, the haunted house ride had a recording of Vincent Price saying spooky stuff as you went through the ride. This was pre-"Thriller". Also, the park was surrounded on the outside by a shopping mall which had the very first Wendy's in the Chicago area. It also had the first corkscrew type rollercoaster in the area.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:00:56 pm
abydos2002 (5 months ago)

Wow! I'm 37 and I vaguely remember going to this place when I was in 1st grade. The roller coaster scared me. And I was really nervous because of all the noise. I think I remember that log ride too ... and my dad holding me really tight when we rode it. I remember Kiddie Land more fondly. Old Chicago was just too much for a young tot like me! LOL!


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:01:17 pm
666billyboy (6 months ago)

The first time I seen The RAMONES was at Old Chicago. One of the best times of my life.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:01:40 pm
#

Teledebrukman (7 months ago)

Well, as they say, unless you kill a guy now and then, you're not putting on enough of show. I'm 40 and remember the place well. A great idea having an indoor park in Chicagoland where the weather SUCKS for 8 months out of the year but I guess it failed anyhow. That log ride looked a lot bigger when I was a kid though. They used to sell colossal bongs out in the open in a few of the shops too. Try that noise today. And it just kind of smelled weird, but in a good way. I recall the smell.
#

fuzzybunny1972 (10 months ago)

today is my 39th birthday and I'm watching these videos missing my childhood. where did the years go? LOL


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:02:19 pm
chicteach1 (2 weeks ago)

OMG... We used to go there. *tearing up*


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:02:45 pm
#

anthonisaac (4 weeks ago)

The horror house was very scary, and since I went to Old Chicago a year or so before it failed so a lot of the shops were closed. The whole place was kind of creepy.
#

thoughtsurfer1 (1 month ago)

Good times at Old Chicago, both the amusement parks and the shops. I remember the horror house being particularly scary.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:03:21 pm
johnduncan77 (4 months ago)

@sdavis197 @ChiRock773 @sheltermaniac I might be able to fill some holes in. It DID close in 1981 (family friend owned a record shop there). Leveled and then became a large auto auction, which still operates to this day. Bolingbrook tried to convert it into an international commerce center but that failed years back. Great memories.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:03:41 pm
johnduncan77 (4 months ago)

This is why I REFUSE to call Mall of America "an original" of its type. It's not. The first time I saw MoA pictures, the first thing I thought was this is a ripoff of Old Chicago on a bigger scale. Great memories though.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:05:48 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocoutside.jpg)

555 S. Bolingbrook Drive, Bolingbrook IL 60439
1975-1981


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:06:20 pm
Old Chicago was a combination shopping mall and indoor amusement park. It was the world's first completely enclosed amusement park, and it was located in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook.

Old Chicago consisted of a large square building with a dome in the center. The rides and attractions (the Old Chicago Fairgrounds) were in the center under the dome, and the shopping area surrounded them. When it opened in 1975, part of the grand opening celebration included a tap dancer dancing on the very top of the dome.

Various events took place at Old Chicago during its short history, including holiday fireworks displays and radio station promotional appearances. The Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon took donations in a glass fishbowl in the parking lot, and sometimes did remote broadcasts from inside the park. Many rock bands and singers appeared at Old Chicago, as well.

Old Chicago seemed like an idea that couldn't fail. In retrospect, however, it's easy to see why it did. The mall consisted solely of small specialty shops and restaurants, and without any large chain stores or anchor stores, it wasn't enough of a shopping mall to attract shoppers. Once the novelty wore off, the building didn't seem to attract repeat visitors, except for those who attended special events or lived relatively nearby. Unlike an outdoor park, which can constantly update and add rides, Old Chicago was confined to the space between its walls, and it got old very quickly. It was also in a somewhat remote location, southwest of the city. The cost of operating the building year-round was probably very high. And I'm sure that when Marriott's (now Six Flags) Great America opened in 1976, it didn't help much either.

Old Chicago never did very well financially, and this culminated in the abrupt closing of the ride area in 1980. The mall, with just a handful of stores, stayed open while efforts were made to find a new owner. Nothing came of it, however, and the entire building closed for good in 1981.

As the next five years passed, the building gradually fell into ruin. Officials were reluctant to demolish it, and everyone hoped that both a new owner and a new use for the building would eventually be found. Several ideas were considered - a gambling casino, a convention center, a retail outlet mall and a movie soundstage were just a few of them. Sadly, none of these ideas panned out, and the building was finally torn down in 1986. Currently, a car auction lot occupies the space, and all that remains is a street named Old Chicago Drive.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:07:18 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocdancer.jpg)

This photo appeared in the Chicago Tribune in May 1975. It shows 18-year-old Michelle Mauthe tap-dancing on top of the dome, while a cameraman inside the helicopter films her for an Old Chicago TV commercial.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:08:10 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/oclions.jpg)

The main entrance, guarded by two replicas of the famous Art Institute lions.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:08:56 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocentrance.jpg)

"Under our Columbian Exposition Arches is the World's first completely enclosed amusement center. Climate controlled year 'round."


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:09:37 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocad.jpg)

An advertisement from 1975.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:10:16 pm
1974 aerial photos during construction

(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/oc74aerial1.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:11:13 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/oc74aerial2.jpg)

http://lisawebworld1.tripod.com/oldchicago.html


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:33:18 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocfairgroundspostcard.jpg)


The Chicago Log Race with the Haunted House in the background


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:35:36 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocparkbw.jpg)

View from the entrance ramp

The Old Chicago Fairgrounds had "31 great rides and attractions" beneath the dome. When it opened, Old Chicago charged $1.00 for admission to the ride area (50 cents for kids), and then charged a flat fee for unlimited rides. A spiral entrance ramp led from the mall level down to the park level, where the rides were arranged in a large circle. Trees, benches and streetlights provided a park-like atmosphere.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:36:39 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocprices.jpg)

1975 prices


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:37:10 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocfury1.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:37:53 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocridesbrochure.jpg)

other attractions

kiddie rides
carnival games
guess-your-weight
shooting gallery
arcade games
vaudeville theatre
souvenir stands
moon walk
dunk tank
handwriting analysis
snack bars
haunted house
Fun Factory
caricature artists
circus


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:39:39 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocfunfactory.jpg)

The Fun Factory was a two-story children's play area added in 1977. This attraction charged a separate admission fee.

(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocfunfactoryticket-1.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:45:54 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocfairgrounds2.jpg)

The view from the entrance ramp, showing
the Chicago Loop roller coaster, Guess-Your-Weight booth
and Chicago Log Race (behind the balloons)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:47:03 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocfairgrounds3.jpg)

Front: kiddie rides, Merry-go-Round, Spider
Back: Chicago Cat roller coaster, Round-Up, Four Seasons


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:51:58 pm
Many rock bands, musicians and other celebrities appeared at Old Chicago during its five-year history.

Former employee Greg Eischen remembers....
"The entertainers would often go on a few rides and getting autographs while working was not allowed. In a lot of cases, employees were asked to become temporary roadies and help load and unload the equipment. I often volounteered to help roll the cases and pianos off the truck and to the stage area.

They perfomed in an area called the Old Chicago Stage, which was added in 1978.. The stage was placed where the Paratrooper ride stood (next to the Haunted House).. The Paratrooper ride was not moved, but removed and sold off for some reason.

On one of my first days working at Old C, 20 employees were asked to help hold the guy wires for Karl Wallenda, a 70 year old famous tight rope walker. I was one of those lucky 20. We had a two hour training class given by his sons on how to hold the wire and steady it as he approched our zone. In this class we actually got to meet Karl.

With the wire crossing inside the building from one side to the other, he crossed the park successfully with no mishaps. It was an interesting sight to see him suspended over the log ride. Sadly, his next tight rope walk between two buildings in Michigan was not successful and he fell to his death."

http://lisawebworld1.tripod.com/oldchicago3.html


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:52:31 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocbrochurebig2.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:54:27 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocrotor2.jpg)

During construction


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:55:28 pm
nightlife & special events

*Windy City Disco
*Private parties
*Teen disco nights
*Radio station promotions
*Rock concerts
*The WLS Big 89 Countdown:
-----broadcast live from Old Chicago
-----on New Year's Eve 1979
*Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon:
-----drive-up collection area in the parking
-----lot, remote broadcasts inside
*Fireworks on the Fourth of July
*Pepsi Challenge
*Miss Teenage Chicago Pageant
*Scenes from the 1978 movie The Fury
-----were filmed in both the ride area
-----and shopping mall
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/octicket2.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:56:31 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocparty.jpg)

Book Old Chicago for your next group outing!


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:57:27 pm
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocbrochurebig1.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 22, 2010, 11:59:36 pm
This map is from Old Chicago's first year of operation.
Consequently, rides that were moved or added later
will not be shown here


(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/map.jpg)

1. Four Seasons
2. arcade games
3. entrance ramp
4. shooting gallery
5. Round-Up
6. Tilt-a-Whirl
7. Chicago Bobs
8. Guess-Your-Weight
9. Chicago Loop
10. games
11. dunk tank
12. Scrambler
13. Chicago Log Race
14. handwriting analysis
15. Chicago Cat    16. Spider
17. kiddie rides
18. moon walk
19. Trabant
20. Paratroopers
21. Merry-go-Round
22. snacks
23. Rotor
24. Circus
25. Yo-Yo
26. Bumper Cars
27. Ferris Wheel
28. Haunted House
29. games
30. hats
31. Vaudeville Theatre


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 23, 2010, 12:01:11 am
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocmallpostcard.jpg)

The shopping mall and Columbian House restaurant



Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 23, 2010, 12:04:02 am
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocstoresphoto.jpg)

The shopping mall was designed to resemble a turn-of-the-century street, complete with cobblestone floors and old-fashioned streetlights. It surrounded the ride area completely, following the entire perimeter of the building. At strategic points there were windows where you could stop and look out into the ride area. The mall had specialty shops, snack bars and a handful of restaurants.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 23, 2010, 12:04:23 am
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocmallbw.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 23, 2010, 12:04:58 am
(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/ocnewspaper.jpg)

Old Chicago sat empty for five years
while the owners decided what to do with it



Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 23, 2010, 12:05:33 am
The two photos below were taken in 1986,
shortly before the building was torn down.
They were sent to me by a visitor to my site.

(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/lastdays1.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 23, 2010, 12:06:22 am
Windows boarded up, leaking roof, grass growing through
cracks in the pavement. But if you look
closely, you can still see the lions out front!

(http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z204/lisanostalgia/oldchicago/lastdays.jpg)

http://lisawebworld1.tripod.com/oldchicago5.html


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on December 05, 2010, 05:39:56 am
The End of Old Chicago (2-3-1986)
user-pic
John R. Schmidt on 02.03.10 at 12:01 AM | no comments |
(http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/unknown-chicago/2-3--Old%20Chicago%20interior.jpg)

John R. Schmidt

I'm a Chicago historian who is still learning about Chicago.
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2-3--Old Chicago interior.jpg

 

The dream ended today.  They began tearing down Old Chicago.

Was it an amusement park?  Was it a shopping mall?  No one could decide which it was.  Now it would be neither.

There had been such high hopes in 1973.  The concept was daring--build an amusement park, surround it with stores, and put the whole thing indoors.  That way it could operate the year 'round.  The investors tripped over each other racing forward with money.

The location for the project was a plot of farmland in Bolingbrook, just off I-55 at Route 53.  In a salute to Chicago history, the 11-acre building was to be topped off with a dome in the style of the 1893 Columbian Exposition.  Planning and construction took over two years.  As the dome started to rise above the corn fields, a steady stream of curiosity seekers drove by the site.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on December 05, 2010, 05:40:36 am
(http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/unknown-chicago/2-3--Old%20Chicago%20dome.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on December 05, 2010, 05:41:09 am


Old Chicago officially opened on June 26, 1975.  The amusement park boasted 31 rides, including a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, and an old Riverview favorite, the Rotor.  Shopping was available in over 100 specialty stores.  Entertainment was provided by circus acts and a Dixieland band.

Over 15,000 people turned out on opening day.  During the first few months, massive traffic jams backed up onto the Interstate.  Then things began to go wrong.

There wasn't any one reason.  Maybe the prices at the amusement park were too high--$2.95 for each of your kids was steep in 1975.  Maybe the shopping wasn't attractive enough--Old Chicago had plenty of boutique stores selling candy and costume jewelry and t-shirts, but no major department store.  Maybe it was the tragic accident, when a trapeze performer slipped and plunged to his death.

Probably the biggest factor was the rise of a competitor.  In 1976 Great America opened in Gurnee.  This was a huge, full-scale amusement park.  Now the 31 rides under the dome in Bolingbrook seemed pretty dinky.

Business at Old Chicago fell off.  The schedule was cut back, with the park closing on Monday and Tuesday.  The Illinois Central Railroad, a major investor, took control.  Stores began leaving.  In 1980 the whole thing closed.

So on this date in 1986, the wrecking ball descended on Old Chicago.  When all is said and done, maybe it was just ahead of its time.  Six years later, the Mall of America opened in Minnesota.

UNKNOWN CHICAGO SOURCE: Chicago Sun-Times, February 4, 1986:8.

http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/unknown-chicago/2010/02/the-end-of-old-chicago-2-3-1986.html


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on December 05, 2010, 05:44:36 am
http://www.youtube.com/videos?ytsession=MId7ZFIysvjnrAhMzYLNsXKAoa_EH9y8pM2UMsvrjpPFCGUZuDiA5KgRdSf2efpqO4Z6cbPQ-r4NfumVs5OymZCJ3DTIb8UjRybHgikX68dqp4HX0CHmEYPAscHlCFchgJCsYZlYOCvavgj2SCto1AXToRFFmmRb6oPlpFbHz41Ik-xKVFBulA_6nrraTazc4X5RXafgLmDCjEH9S9xmAajnW9ldZcQhdQIb7rla1YVc4NWXGnJ3oNHD9fA64JtiI7VkPKqvRuyInuKcmftMT_vJTsmflE27XmzlOK7HjekNxj7F9MYXqZ2cca0WflbykAUUG7ANDDGuuEuhO1CWlb_KqVYNllz8

File this under "good ideas, bad execution." Designer Robert Brindle conceived the idea of an indoor amusement park and shopping mall after a visit to Knott's Berry Farm. Brindle's concept was a turn of the century design inside the park, with mom-and-pop stores anchoring the shopping mall instead of the brand name stores normally found in shopping malls.

From the moment Old Chicago opened in Bolingbrook in June 1975 it was plagued by problems. A pre-opening party was held before construction was done and with electrical wiring exposed to the public. A month after opening the mall's sprinkler system malfunctioned, causing a six-hour shutdown. A trapeze artist performing in the amusement park fell to his death. Small fires routinely broke out.

Old Chicago stayed open until 1980, when Illinois Central Railroad (one of the original investors who took over operations after Brindle was removed as general manager) decided to cut their losses. After years of trying to find uses for the space, including a casino, a movie soundstage and a discount outlet mall, the building was eventually demolished. The soundstage might have made a good concept. The YouTube clip above is from a 1978 Brian De Palma film called "The Fury" and provides the best video footage we've seen of Old Chicago. You can also read more about Old Chicago at these two websites dedicated to the place.

http://chicagoist.com/2008/07/25/the_friday_flashback_old_chicago_am.php


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on May 09, 2011, 12:47:42 am
Whatever happened to ... Old Chicago mall in Bolingbrook?
Tribune reporter
March 13, 2009|By Vikki Ortiz, TRIBUNE REPORTER

It was an amusement park that was supposed to put Bolingbrook on the map. Instead the Old Chicago mega-mall and amusement park went bankrupt a year after it opened in 1975, closed in 1980 and was demolished six years later.

Still, many people surely remember the 215-shop, turn-of-the-century-theme mall with rides, a concert venue and circus performers -- all under a glowing 16-story dome.

"It was Disneyland indoors," said John Miller, 40, of Downers Grove, who still remembers Old Chicago's TV jingle by heart. Miller remembers visiting Old Chicago many times with his family as a child.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on May 09, 2011, 12:48:33 am
"It seemed like it took Bolingbrook a long time to get over it," he said of the park at the intersection of the Stevenson Expressway and Illinois Highway 53. "You're not used to seeing huge things like that just disappear."

Robert Brindle opened the park, which he envisioned as a year-round family destination.

But Brindle was eventually forced out.

Although the new management invested millions of dollars in renovations and new rides, the mall never attracted a major anchor store.

With shrinking attendance and growing debt, the park reduced its hours and adjusted prices but in the end, the giant complex couldn't sustain itself.

It closed in March 1980.

The extended Brindle family eventually headed for California where they started another family destination spot -- this one more successful.

Robert Brindle, who had retired to Palm Springs, Calif., was visiting his grandkids in the state's Humboldt County in 1979 when he noticed picturesque oceanfront property for sale in a town called Trinidad, according to Damon Brindle, Robert's grandson.

Robert Brindle used his share of Old Chicago money to buy 300 acres in Trinidad, which he turned into the Redwood Trails, a resort with cabins, a campground and a clubhouse.

Over the next several years, Brindle developed many more resorts across California, all in idyllic settings where he sometimes lived with his wife, Damon Brindle said.

From time to time, a friend from Illinois would call with an update about Old Chicago's fate, but Robert Brindle never let it bother him.

"He didn't hang on to stuff like that," Damon Brindle said. "He just liked being with his family. He was just happy that everybody was still around."

Though Old Chicago is no longer around, memories of it remain.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-03-13/news/0903110694_1_amusement-park-mega-mall-remembers


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on May 09, 2011, 12:49:48 am
Miller, who rode an upside-down roller coaster for the first time at Old Chicago, went on to college, married his dream girl, Michelle, joined the Navy and traveled the world, including a yearlong tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2006-07.

Today, he and his wife take their three children on an annual trip to Kiddieland in Melrose Park. He said he hopes the trips will resonate with them the way Old Chicago did for him as a kid.

Diane Gutenkauf of Elmhurst remembers packing all her girlfriends into her father's green station wagon for Saturdays under Old Chicago's dome.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on May 09, 2011, 12:50:18 am
She doesn't remember the empty stores or leaky roof that contributed to the park's demise.

"Nostalgia connects us to a time when we don't remember bad things, we just remember good things," Gutenkauf said. "I do remember driving there, being allowed the freedom to go."

Paul Drabek, 37, of Augusta, Ill., cherishes memories of his parents taking him to Old Chicago. He set up a Web site that allows people to reminisce about the park.

Since negative-g.com was launched in 2000, he's received nearly 300 e-mails, some from people who have sent programs, uniform patches, photos and other souvenirs from Old Chicago.

"It wasn't here that long, and I still get e-mails on it," Drabek said. "It touched that many people."

Robert Brindle died four years ago at 86, with not one bit of regret over the failed Bolingbrook complex, his grandson said.

Old Chicago did come up once, just before Brindle died, when his family took him to Disneyland in a wheelchair.

"He was pretty happy about that," Brindle said. "He was telling us, 'I built one of these things once.'"

If you have a fond memory from the area that you'd like reported and updated, send it to Vikki Ortiz at vortiz@tribune.com.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on May 09, 2011, 12:56:17 am
Bolingbrook Tells Plans For Site Of Old Chicago
May 07, 1987

Old Chicago, the shopping center and theme park that became Bolingbrook`s never-never land of darkened storefronts and stalled amusement rides, will become the site of a car and truck wholesaler, according to plans submitted to the village`s planning commission Wednesday.

Also, the southwest suburb will annex 80 acres of a private farm next to the site, near Ill. Hwy. 53 and Int. Hwy. 55, and stretch town borders to meet Romeoville.

Village manager Bob Kolodziej Wednesday called the first phase of the project, with its estimated $20 million worth of construction and 200 new jobs, an ``indirect economic benefit to this community which cannot be overstated.`` The Old Chicago building was demolished last year.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on May 09, 2011, 12:56:50 am
Arena Auto Auction Inc., a Chicago subsidiary of companies in Nashville and Britain, would erect two buildings totaling 110,000 square feet on 47 acres of the Old Chicago site, which it has purchased from IC Industries of Chicago. The sale price of the land parcel was not disclosed.

One building would house a showroom and auction block for the vehicles for sale, which Kolodziej described as surplus late-model used cars, industrial trucks, recreational vehicles and new cars returned to factories due to incorrect orders. The other building would house a service garage.

Kolodziej said the necessary board approval would take 30 to 60 days. At that time, according to the plan, the village would annex the 80 acres for future economic development. Kolodziej declined to elaborate, but estimated that the first phase of the project would be completed by the end of November. The 500,000-square-foot Old Chicago complex was completed in 1975 amid expectations that Bolingbrook`s continued fast growth would bring prosperity. But the partnership that had built Old Chicago filed for bankruptcy protection the next year.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1987-05-07/news/8702030900_1_kolodziej-land-parcel-first-phase


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on May 09, 2011, 01:00:31 am
(http://www.negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/OC-Logo-large.gif)


Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
How Did It Happen:  The Old Chicago Story


This article was originally printed in the Met on April 17, 1986

 

The year of 1973

In June of 1973, Robert Brindle brings a watercolor print of his proposed Old Chicago Towne to the Bolingbrook plan commission.

He proposes a 345,000 square foot complex that will include outdoor-type amusement rides ringed by stores. He promises to "put Bolingbrook on the map."

"We don’t expect any of the big merchandising giants here," says Brindle. Shops are to be of the specialty variety.

Brindle was negotiating during that spring with the village.

Bolingbrook and Romeoville vied for the development and tax money it would bring. Old Chicago would be south of I-55 and thought to be rightfully Romeoville’s according to the prevailing philosophy in the southern village at that time.

Purchase of an additional 200 acres to accommodate a hotel and golf course fell through.

 

The year of 1974

 January

Brindle brings the first of his building plans to the plan commission. But the building's foundation – without approval of the village – has already been laid in the fall of 1973.

The first of many legal troubles start as Brindle is told that his foundation exceeds setback requirements in the village code.

The village refuses to issue building permits. Brindle begs for zoning and approval of plans, saying that he can’t get any money from his financial backers without approval.

A new set of hearings is called. Brindle claims he’s used to building in Southern California where they get approval as construction continues.

May

The 15-foot wide, 40 ton wall sections are lifted into place by cranes – but still without approval of the village.

 

The year of 1975

 June 5

Dome dancer Michelle Mauthe, a Bolingbrook resident, dances in the drizzle for television cameras in a commercial.

June 6

The lions arrive to take up their guardian positions at the grand entrance of Old Chicago

June 17

Ten to sixteen thousand invited guests create mammoth traffic jams to attend a pre-opening party for Old Chicago. It takes half an hour to go from Boughton Road down Route 53 to the park.

With threats from the village and mayor Nora Wipfler, Old Chicago management is told it may not open on June 21. It is too dangerous with exposed wiring and half-completed storefronts.

Village officials find themselves in a no-win position: either allow "civilians to enter the building still under construction" or turn away thousands of guests that fill the parking lot and route 53.

June 26

An estimated 15,000 attend the two-day opening ceremonies following a last minute inspection by village officials. Construction crews work around the clock to pass inspection.

July 3

Village shuts down Old Chicago for six hours because of sprinkler malfunction. There are heated discussions between the Village and Brindle.

September

Brindle says that each weekend brings an average of 50,000 visitors to Old Chicago. Traffic snarls Rt. 53 all the way to Lisle.

Attractions include the Chicago Loop (Arrow Corkscrew), Rotor, Yo-Yo, Flume, Chicago Cat (Zyklon) Windy City Flyer, plus the International Circus and Vaudeville theatre.

Two restaurants serve Old Chicago: Columbia House owned by Frank Zaucha, owner of the new Lemont truck stop: and the Old Chicago Biergarten.

October

Village and Old Chicago management are at odds again over what the village says is reneging on the fire safety pact. Some 500 people are evacuated after a fire in the trash compactor. Park management complains that the fire department was overreacting to a relativity small fire.

Miss Teenage Chicago is crowned at Old Chicago

November

Old Chicago Post Office opens replacing the Osco substation. The new post office carries it’s own distinctive postmark.

The "Comedy King Of Air" 56-year-old Jimmy Troy falls 20 feet to his death from the trapeze in an aerial accident of the Old Chicago circus.

 

The year of 1976

 January

There’s a shake-up of Old Chicago management amid rumors of bankruptcy, just six months after the grand opening.

Brindle is on the way out. New management includes IC (Illinois Central Railroad) Industries.

May

Clyde Farman becomes the new general manager. There’s a note of optimism in the air.

Annual payroll for the park is in excess of $3.5 million.

The amusement tax is bringing the village some $200,000 to $300,000 each year plus $120,000 in sales taxes. In addition, Bolingbrook gets positive PR with its name in every Old Chicago ad.

June

The story behind the Old Chicago bankruptcy is detailed, including $8 million in construction cost overruns. Never less the general manager refers to the bankruptcy as "only a technical readjustment" and announces new attractions that will put Old Chicago on the right track.

Meanwhile, he is casting a watchful eye to the north, in Gurnee where the Marriott Corporation is just opening it’s new "amusement extravaganza" (now Six Flags Great America)

December

Fayva Shoes opens in the mall, but Columbian House restaurant closes.

 

The year of 1977

February

Village manager, Reed Carlson announces that Robert Brindle, who conceived and built Old Chicago, is "Completely out of the picture now."

Control of the giant complex now rests completely with IC Industries. That conglomerates representatives meet with retail merchants at Old Chicago and unveil plans for a major revamp of the amusement park area.

April

Old Chicago donates space to the Fountindale Theater Project, the local amateur theater group, to perform plays.

Summer

Opening hours are shifted. Features are added to attract more people, including psychic fairs, battle of the drums competition, graduation nights, family nights, antique shows, car and cycle shows, The Auccopolco High Diving Team, and the "Human Torch" who literally sets himself on fire.

July

The Bolingbrook Jaycees stage their third annual fireworks display at Old Chicago, accompanied by parachuters and midget racers.

Billed under the headlines of "Public Executions at Old Chicago" a desperate public relations gimmick promotes celebration of Bastille Day at the park with fun shows featuring "the rack", cat-o-nine-tails and other antique torture devices.

August

A new position is created that of "mall manager." He is Joseph Viliack, not to be confused with the new general manager, Cleveland Smith, of Wynne Enterprises, called in to revitalize and rehab, not to mention put more amusement into the amusement park. The mall manager’s mission: fill up the shop fronts.

Hollywood movie director Brian DePalma becomes the first person to try to demolish Old Chicago. While shooting a scene for his film "The Fury." DePalma and his special effects crews send a part of a ride (the paratrooper) crashing through the window of the Biergarten. Extras in the movie include several Bolingbrook residents who may be seen if you look closely at the two minute sequence that immortalizes Old Chicago in film.

September

Deejays John Landecker, Steve King and Bob Sirott host part of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy telethon at Old Chicago. Some $27,000 is raised at the park alone.

October

Old Chicago hosts the Pepsi Challenge, one of the first locations in the Chicago area.

November

The Fun Factory, a multi-level super play area for younger children, with it’s own separate admission fee and entrance opens as part of a $6 million park improvement program.

Also included in the improvements are colorful sound baffles hung under the dome to help prevent the deafening unpleasant noise of outdoor amusement rides operating indoors.

New rides include the Screamer and Barnstormer airplane thrill ride plus a laser light show.

 

The Year Of 1978

January

Following the $6 million revitalization of the amusement area, the mall undergoes new "zoning" to group specialty shops together under eight new themes.

May

The assessed valuation of Old Chicago is reduced by the states Property Tax Appeal Board, from $6.6 million to $4 million.

The reduction stems from an appeal by the owners that they are just barely surviving.

The tax reduction might help businesses, but local taxing bodies, especially the Valley View school district, is expected to be hit severely by the tax cut, and the district may take legal recourse.

Rumors also circulate that (the first) buyer’s negotiating for the purchase and rehab cost of $40 million.

June

Jaycees have to defend themselves against citizen complaints about holding the annual fireworks display at Old Chicago. It’s not comfortable say residents, who also indicate that they don’t care to do anything that might also benefit the park. Jaycee President Tom Delaney answers that since Old Chicago picks up part of the tab, the Jaycees can put on a bigger fireworks show at the amusement park.

August

First of the shutdowns. Old Chicago is closed to the general public on Mondays and Tuesdays, though it can open for large groups such as company outings that rent the park for the day.

October

"Contrary to rumors, Old Chicago is not evicting its merchants or converting the facility into a sports complex." Says Dick Evans (Another new management person).

 

The Year Of 1979

February

A fire in the Old Chicago Tobacco Company is doused quickly after tobacco goes up in smoke as it is being dried by electric heaters. There are no sprinklers in the storage area where the tobacco is dried.

March

The management team rethinks the shopping mall. Namely all the stores are shifted to the front area near the entrance.

Meanwhile, management also denies low attendance during winter months, claiming that the concerts and discos keep bringing in the customers.

May

Another new game plan for Old Chicago, this time the suggestion that a bowling alley and theatres be added.

A management spokesman admits for the first time that amusement rides and shopping might not be compatible – thus the notion of adding more recreational kinds of facilities to the mall area.

July

The professional fireworks display that Old Chicago hires in lieu of the Jaycees blows up in their faces literally when a spark ignites all the bombs and bursts prematurely. Only one technician suffers first and second degree burns, in addition to minor injuries to a 6-year-old, but most of the crowd is safe behind barricades.

Admission to the Fun Factory is no longer cheaper. People have to pay the full freight to get into the park even if they just want to take their 5-year-old to the Kiddy Fun Factory.

 

The Year Of 1980

January

Old Chicago announces plans to construct new concert stage with a new three-way sound system for its "Live at Old Chicago" concert series. They want to "create a more acoustically-perfect sound system…" as if the concerts would go on forever.

March

OLD CHICAGO SHUT FOREVER

Work begins to dismantle the amusement rides. Shops can remain open for some time. Some will. Most won’t.

Foreclosure proceedings are filed by IC Industries actually against itself as a general partner of Old Chicago Towne Partners.

Officials say that the foreclosure and shutdown is a move to help sell the property for another use. In fact, negotiations with potential buyers have started, officials report.

An IC spokesman states that IC might be willing to take a loss of as much as $13 million to sell off Old Chicago.

May

"Largest Indoor Park Becomes Largest Discount Mall"

A contract to buy Old Chicago is signed to turn the world’s largest indoor park into America’s largest factory outlet mall.

Outlet mall investors, headed by Roy Cohn, board chairman of Webber Cohn and Riley advertising and public relations firm, promises 100 outlets of brand name goods. Sixteen companies have already requested leases, he says.

July

Former merchants of Old Chicago’s mall sue for $5 million in a 300-age lawsuit for money they will lose in sales during the time left on their leases at the mall and for the cost of relocating.

Some merchants had as much as 3 ½ years left on leases before being pushed out the door once the amusement park folded. Only four businesses remain in the hollowed mall halls: House of Jade, Super T’s Inc, Biergarten and Olde Chicago Styling Salon.

The village opposes suggestions to board up Old Chicago

September

Mid-America developers regretfully announce delays in opening their discount mall. Originally set to open in August of 1980, then September, then October, they now say not until April of 1981.

Rumors are denied that they can’t get manufacturers to sign on the dotted lines.

 

The Year Of 1981

January

The mall stalls. The April opening is postponed. The option by mall developers to buy Old Chicago actually expired at the end of 1980. There is no option renewal, though talk of some negotiations. Mall developers say some manufacturers are interested in becoming tenants, but what with high interest rates…tight money?

March

Mayoral candidate Terry Little whips off letters to everyone in the world who has anything to do with movies or who has ever seen a movie suggesting that Old Chicago be sold as a motion picture/TV production soundstage. He is successful in getting the state of Illinois film division to come by for a tour of the building.

June

Three dogged survivors, the last of the mall merchants, sue IC to keep the building open following an announcement by IC to shut the place down.

It’s costing $50,000 a month just to keep the utilities on, among other basic expenses, says IC, when it’s only collecting $450 a month in rent. Olde Chicago Styling is the only one paying rent. Other survivors include House of Jade and Biergarten.

Says Biergarten owner Hans Gliege, "Old Chicago may be broke, but IC is a big company and they are trying to chisel us, those of us who have all of our life savings invested here."

July

Old Chicago is ruled out as the Midwest headquarters for the Hollywood set. It won’t become a soundstage. The states film division says Old Chicago is 1) too expensive 2) too big 3) too far away from Chicago.

August

After several postponements Old Chicago is boarded up physically and legally and officially.

But IC Industries and village officials assure villagers that several developers, including Mid-America outlet mall developers are still interested in purchase.

The village’s economic development director, Barb Katterman says that boarding up is really not the end, but the next step toward getting a new use for the building.

The boards follow the official bankruptcy of Olde Chicago Towne Partners. The building is estimated to be worth $6 to $10 million, but has $65 million in liens against it, says one attorney.

Can Bolingbrook survive the Double White Elephant Whammy? Old Chicago teams up with Chrysler as seven metro car dealers hold a marathon sale, pushing 700 cars over one weekend on the grounds of Old Chicago.

Fall

Bolingbrook gets a Christmas present! OLD Chicago is sold!

Within eighteen months to two years away, say new option holders, Old Chicago will reopen – as something. They’re not sure quite what, but promise beacoup sales tax dollars for the village.

Buyers include A.T. LaPrade, Harold Friend and Roy R. Moore Jr. each of whom carry impressive credentials in either shopping center development, international sales, cattle breeding or selling tires.

Until the sale closes they’ll pay IC Industries an undisclosed amount in monthly rent on the closed building with purchase and rehab estimated to total $20 million.

 

The Year of 1982

January

Speculators looking for a place to establish a gambling casino in the state propose Old Chicago as a logical site. Meanwhile, the village remains confident that LaPrade and Associates will finalize their buy, but nothing comes of it.

February

Bolingbrook absolutely refuses to entertain the notion that Old Chicago becomes a gambling casino. "No, no, no!!"

April

"Retail Center" is all that anyone will say about the building’s future. Rumors are denied that the current buyers aren’t paying their monthly rent to IC.

June

Buyer Charles Woods of California has until the end of the month to pick up his option on Old Chicago.

In the meantime, the dome hits the auction block. Some 140 bid packets are mailed out, but the auction is cancelled when no qualified bids come in. Suggested opening: $5.4 million.

Summer

The village adopts a restrictive demolition ordinance to discourage talk by IC of tearing down the building. " We still want a buyer" is the village sentiment.

October

Charles Woods quietly lets his option expire by not paying the $100,000 monthly rent to hold the building.

Reports of deteriorating roof and structural damage surface, particularly if IC decides not to heat the building over the winter, a move opposed by village hall.

November

Village demolition rules and regs are hauled out and new sections added that would make demolition cost-prohibitive. "Maybe this will make them think twice before demolishing Old Chicago, says Mayor Ed Rosenthal.

 

The Year of 1983

January

Demolition bids sit on the desks of IC officials, but a prospective buyer gives the building a stay of execution.

Mid-Winter

The fire protection system is turned off. A ticket is issued to IC by the fire department for code violation. The sprinkler system is not turned back on and is reportedly being dismantled.

July

A growing tide of sentiment rises to raze Old Chicago.

For the first time, village trustees show little interest in saving the building, but officials find themselves in a bind.

On the other hand, putting the building in dry dock by turning off the fire sprinkler system violates village codes. Resistance to dry-docking by the village may encourage demolition by IC.

Trustees Roger Claar and Jim Meyer say "Who cares?"

Mayor Ed Rosenthal says, "Why give anything up? It doesn’t cost the village anything to try to keep selling the building."

September

Two men are arrested breaking into Old Chicago. Police acknowledge a growing and persistent problem with vandals at the boarded up amusement park.

November

The continual problem with vandals leads to a proposal by IC to put barbed wire fencing around the property. It’s refused by the village’s ZBA, which doesn’t want the place to look like "Stateville North".

 

The Year of 1984

Winter

There’s no heat, except between IC, which wants to tear down the building, and the village, which is trying to delay demolition with the hopes of finding a buyer.

Literally dozens, if not hundreds, of speculators have toured the boarded up building over its closed years, but the village is gun-shy of announcing buyers in the wake of so many earlier disappointments.

June

A Missouri gentleman and land speculator specializing in "distressed properties", CL Carter, puts some money down, signs a purchase agreement with IC Industries and is introduced around the town with optimism. The undisclosed purchase price is estimated at close to $3 million, not much higher than the original price of the land alone. Carr does not say what he’ll do with the building, except to promise that it will be glittery – perhaps an entertainment capitol.

July

A shocked Bolingbrook learns that option-holder CL Carr is convicted of bank fraud in Arkansas, stemming from "sham loans" to get money in the manes of friends when Carr was not credit worthy.

No one in Bolingbrook knew about Carr’s legal problems and pending conviction on charges of bank fraud.

Other than "no comment", sources close to the Missouri land speculator say that Carr’s conviction will not stop the purchase of Old Chicago.

August

Despite a conviction for bank fraud, Carr is moving quickly to convert Old Chicago into useful property. Local developer Bill Palmer is his agent.

It seems that Carr’s plan is to demolish the building and subdivide the land. One car dealer is said to be interested in buying a piece of the land.

 

The Year of 1985

September

Car dealer Joe Levy buys a corner of Old Chicago property, thus sealing the prospect that the building will be leveled so the land can be sold for other things.

The property is officially labeled "blighted" by village ordinance. The land is worth more than the building, say officials.

The village acts as middle man in the sale, putting up some $300,000 so Levy can afford the property. Levy will repay the village its investment through credits for the sales taxes Levy’s auto dealership brings the village.

IC industries still owns the rest of the property, but CL Carr maintains that he’s still going to take it off the hands of the conglomerates.

January

The dome may not be doomed after all, says Bill Palmer. For six months every would-be buyer has talked of turning the building into an entertainment/assembly facility. "An indoor Poplar Creek" is one suggestion.

But no one has put up any money. CL Carr technically still holds an option on the building, but is not actively marketing the property.

June

The steady stream of prospective buyers no includes Elliott Glassner, owner of Keystone and Stroud realty companies.

The LDC says it won’t accept any buyer without a specific plan to turn the building into a convention center site that would attract hotels and related facilities. Glassner speaks of a warehouse operation and disappears.

July

Village and IC agree to demolish the dome. CL Carr has until July 31, 1985 to come up with the purchase price or the demolition orders are signed.

The site is to be cleared and ready to sell off in pieces.

August

The final attempt to sell Old Chicago fizzles. No option is picked up. While the sands run out, Old Chicago’s weathered carcass is being stripped of whatever portable values remain.

Mayor Bob Bailey salvages used Christmas tree decorations, the flume ride fountain and passels of souvenirs and equipment still left under the dome.

The lions escape the mayor, and end up at Bolingbrook Auto Center, still on property once part of Old Chicago.

November

Demolition is pending, but county board chairman John Annerino makes one more bid to save the building. He wants to sell it to the People’s Republic of China for an international trade center.

Annerino is taking former LDC president frank Rousseau with him to China to seal the deal.

December

Politicians intervene long enough to give John Annerino time to go to China and sell the property for a trade center, much to Mayor Bob Bailey’s dismay.

Annerino does not return with a signed contract and cash, but he claims to have a letter of intent from the Chinese to buy the building.

 

The Year 1986

January

John Annerino hopes to bring the 1992 World’s Fair to Will County and suggests Old Chicago as a possible site, while still contending that the People’s Republic of China also wants to buy it.

A week later, the village signs the actual demolition order.

February

Village hosts a "media event" to persuade the world that demolition of Old Chicago is a fresh start.

A model depicting hypothetical development of property with a variety of uses is shown by the LDC, but there are no "hot prospects".

John Annerino nearly steals the thunder from the village by showing his letter of intent from the Chinese to the television cameras.

To convince Annerino that no one is willing to listen to his suggestions, an exterior wall is knocked down on the building, denying its use for anything, once and for all.

March

Piles of rubble grow along Rt. 53 just south of I-55 as Old Chicago’s walls tumble.

April

The dome quietly sinks into the sunset with absolutely no fanfare.

By the end of the month, not a trace of the former amusement park remains but memories.

http://www.negative-g.com/Old-Chicago/Old-Chicago-History.htm


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:49:48 pm
Classic photos: Old Chicago

Aug. 6, 2013

Despite its short run, Robert Brindle's Old Chicago drew hundreds of thousands to the turn-of-the-century themed indoor amusement park and shopping center in Bolingbrook. Opened in 1975 as a year-round destination for families, the park quickly went bankrupt because of low attendance and lack of commercial interest. The park closed in 1980 and was demolished six years later. While all that remains of the park is a street in its name, Old Chicago served as a conceptual blueprint for successful amusement park malls nationwide. Check out some classic photos taken by Chicago Tribune photographers.


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:50:28 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052379/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-020/768)

Feb. 22, 1975: Workers complete the skylight on the 16-story dome. The building features 283,200 square feet of park space and parking spots for 10,000 cars. — Tribune Archive Photo / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:51:10 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052379/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-001/1197)




March 13, 1975: Harry Norton auditions for a security guard job at Old Chicago. Guards were expected to be at least six feet, four inches tall, sing and, hopefully, play the banjo. — Quentin C. Dodt / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:51:53 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052379/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-007/1010)


Buy this photo

May 30, 1975: Sixteen stories above Bolingbrook, Michele Mauthe, 18, tap dances on the domed roof of Old Chicago as cameramen in a helicopter film. The stunt was part of a commercial for the new shopping center and amusement park at U.S. Hwy. 53 and the Stevenson Expressway. A recent graduate of Laural Grant High School in Lisle, Mauthe answered a classified ad seeking someone who did not suffer from acrophobia, and was chosen from 100 applicants. — Tribune Archive Photo / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:53:45 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052379/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-019/768)


June 20, 1975: Dixieland bands are part of the free entertainment in shop-lined New Orleans square at Old Chicago. — Frank Harris / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:54:27 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052379/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-011/996)

Oct. 23, 1975: Mark Vanik, 19, and Pamela Cobb, 18, of Woodridge, were married aboard the Chicago Loop roller coaster at Old Chicago. — Quentin C. Dodt / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:55:02 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052379/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-016/768)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:55:16 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052379/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-016/768)

Feb. 9, 1976: Children play skee-ball at the Old Chicago Towne Arcade. — Ray Gora / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:57:10 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052380/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-003/828)

Jan. 11, 1978: Old Chicago begins a new season by launching Hugo Zacchini, "The Human Cannonball," from a cannon to break the new season's opening ribbon. Zacchini was shot from the cannon four times that weekend. Don Casper / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:58:20 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052380/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-012/1213)

Jan. 17, 1978: Carlie Baffle, "mayor" of Old Chicago, greets four-year-old Matthew Adelman. — Don Casper / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:58:48 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052380/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-004/768)


Feb. 10, 1978: The Fun Factory at Old Chicago is the first supervised play activity area of its kind in the Midwest. — Tribune Archive Photo / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 08:59:19 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052380/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-015/768)

Feb. 13, 1978: The Barnstormer is the first aviation thrill ride created for an amusement park in the world. Standing more than 70 feet high, the ride thrilled passengers with giant falling dives and zooming climbs. — Tribune Archive Photo / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:00:22 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052380/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-002/768)

Nov. 2, 1979: Overlooking the Old Chicago amusement park is the Top of the Ramp Cafe, where musicians play folk, dixieland and popular music each Saturday and Sunday. Other show attractions at the park include the Live at Old Chicago concert series, Classic Comedy Flicks, the Windy City Disco Movement and the Punch and Judy Gong Show. — Tribune Archive Photo / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:00:54 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052381/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-017/768)

Feb. 6, 1980: Rides, food and games abound at Old Chicago amusement park. — James Mayo / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:01:30 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052381/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-009/1179)

June 29, 1984: Lion statues, similar to those outside the Art Institute of Chicago, survey the vacant Old Chicago amusement park and shopping center. The park went under largely because it was not able to attract a large anchor store. — Don Casper / Chicago


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:02:05 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052381/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-021/768)

Jan. 27, 1985: Old Chicago, which cost $20 million to build, sits abandoned on its 57-acre site. It closed in 1980 and the wrecking ball arrived in the spring of 1986. — Chuck Berman / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:02:52 pm
(http://www.trbimg.com/img-1411052381/turbine/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806-006/768)

Feb. 3, 1986: Demolition begins on Old Chicago in order to make way for a new commercial and office park. Arena Auto Auction now stands at 200 W. Old Chicago Drive. — Don Casper / Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 2014


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:03:06 pm
http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-classic-photos-old-chicago-20130806/


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:07:15 pm
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Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:07:41 pm
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Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:08:03 pm
(http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT82O_x9eC4xc8sthpXmKb2xiQvQsfLdKEZYYOYdZ2p4e5TUmY4)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:08:22 pm
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Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:08:23 pm
(http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT82O_x9eC4xc8sthpXmKb2xiQvQsfLdKEZYYOYdZ2p4e5TUmY4)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:08:42 pm
(http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRiVJq7Be1YCPhwG3IS_70vOxkNtPXYoX30-bD3jjgOBmEhXbOumw)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:09:46 pm
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Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:10:38 pm
(http://www.negative-g.com/old-chicago-amusement-park/Old-Chicago-Closed-1.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Desolate Angel on November 21, 2014, 09:11:04 pm
(http://www.negative-g.com/old-chicago-amusement-park/Old-Chicago-Aerial.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Britany Lincicum on April 03, 2016, 04:06:49 am
Home » Old Chicago, Bollingbrook, Illinois 1975-1981 (Play slideshow)

Old Chicago Amusement Park, Bolingbrook, IL. (1975-1981)


Old Chicago was the world's first completely enclosed amusement park and shopping center located at 555 S. Bolingbrook Drive, Bolingbrook Illinois was open 365 days a year. It consisted of a large square building with a dome in the center. The rides and attractions (the "Old Chicago Fairgrounds") were in the center, under the dome, and the shopping area surrounded them. When it opened in 1975, part of the grand opening celebration included a tap dancer, dancing on the top of the dome.

The "Shopping Mall" had a cobblestone floor, and was designed to resemble a turn-of-the-century (20th century) street. Basically it was one long hallway that followed the entire perimeter of the building. At strategic points, there were windows where you could look out into the amusement park area. The shopping mall didn't have any large anchor stores or chain stores, only gift shops, specialty shops and snack bars.

Old Chicago seemed like an idea that couldn't fail. In retrospect, however, it's easy to see why it did. The mall consisted solely of small specialty shops and restaurants, and without any large chain stores or anchor stores, it wasn't enough of a shopping mall to attract shoppers. Once the novelty wore off, the building didn't seem to attract repeat visitors, except for those who attended special events or lived relatively nearby. Unlike an outdoor park, which can constantly update and add rides, Old Chicago was confined to the space between its walls, and it got old very quickly. It was also in a somewhat remote location, southwest of the city. The cost of operating the building year-round was probably very high. And I'm sure that when Marriott's (now Six Flags) Great America opened in 1976, it didn't help much either.

The Old Chicago Fairgrounds had "31 great rides and attractions" beneath the dome. When it opened, Old Chicago charged $1.00 for admission to the ride area (50 cents for kids), and then charged a flat fee for unlimited rides. A spiral entrance ramp led from the mall level down to the park level, where the rides were arranged in a large circle. Trees, benches and streetlights provided a park-like atmosphere.

The "Fairgrounds" had "31 great rides and attractions" all crammed into the domed center of the building. I remember being amazed that they could fit everything in. At the time it opened, Old Chicago charged $1.00 for admission to the ride area (50 cents for kids), and then charged a flat fee for unlimited rides. In addition to standard rides like the Round-up, Tilt-a-Whirl, Chicago Bobs, Scrambler, Spider, Merry-go-round, Monster of the Midway, Rotor, Antique Cars, Barnstormer, Crash of '29 (bumper cars), Enterprise, Trabant, Ferris wheel, Paratroopers, Four Seasons (dark ride), Yo-Yo, Toboggan, Screamer and the Windy City Flyer, there were two Roller Coasters (the Zyclon and the Chicago Loop) and a water ride (the Chicago Log Race).

The Fairgrounds also hosted a circus, a vaudeville theater, and a haunted house, as well as a few Kiddie rides and some games of skill and chance. Various events took place at Old Chicago from time to time. Chicago radio stations held 'back-to-school bashes and the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon had a donation "fishbowl" there, and did remote broadcasts from there during their Chicago segments.

Many rock bands, musicians and other celebrities appeared at Old Chicago. They performed in an area called the “Old Chicago Stage” which was added in 1978. The stage was placed where the Paratrooper ride stood (next to the Haunted House). The Paratrooper ride was sold instead of being moved elsewhere in the park. Here is a partial list of performers: Black Oak Arkansas - (Go Jim Dandy!), Tommy James and the Shondells, The Coasters (Alley OOP, Charlie Brown), Wild Cherry (Play that Funky Music), Willie Aimes - (Eight is Enough, Charles in Charge), Anson Williams (Potsie from Happy Days), Freddie ‘Boom Boom’ Cannon (Palisades Park), Chubby Checker, Chuck Berry, Peter Tork and the Monkees (He was the only touring member), Jan and Dean (Surf City), Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Rip Taylor (Toupee and all), Sha-Na-Na, The Ramones (One of the original punk bands), Rex Smith, Gary ‘US’ Bonds, The Shirelles, Blood, Sweat and Tears, The Hudson Brothers (The Razzle Dazzle show), Gloria Gaynor (I will Survive), The Guess Who (American Women), Rick Nelson, The Star Wars Robots (C3PO and R2D2), and Karl Wellenda.

Old Chicago didn’t fare well financially. Perhaps, without major chain stores, it wasn't enough to attract shoppers. The amusement park was too confined to attract amusement park aficionados. Old Chicago abrupt closed the amusement park in 1980 and the mall followed in 1981. The building was razed in 1986.

[ NUMBERED MAP]
This map is from Old Chicago's first year of operation. Consequently, rides that were moved or added later will not be shown here.

1. Four Seasons
2. Arcade games
3. Entrance ramp
4. Shooting gallery
5. Round-Up
6. Tilt-a-Whirl
7. Chicago Bobs
8. Guess-Your-Weight
9. Chicago Loop
10. Games
11. Dunk tank
12. Scrambler
13. Chicago Log Race
14. Handwriting analysis
15. Chicago Cat
16. Spider
17. Kiddie Rides
18. Moon walk
19. Trabant
20. Paratroopers
21. Merry-go-Round
22. Snacks Concession stand
23. Rotor
24. Circus
25. Yo-Yo
26. Bumper Cars
27. Ferris Wheel
28. Haunted House
29. Games
30. Hats
31. Vaudeville Theatre

[RADIO COMMERCIAL]
Radio Commercial Old Chicago Bolingbrook IL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8ro9weGtKo

(http://livinghistoryofillinois.com/amusement_parks/Old%20Chicago%20Amusement%20Park,%20Bolingbrook,%20Illinois%201975-1981/album/#slides/Bolingbrook_IL_Old_Chicago_Amusement_Park_012.jpg)


Title: Re: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois
Post by: Britany Lincicum on April 03, 2016, 04:08:02 am
  THE STORY OF OLD CHICAGO AMUSEMENT PARK & SHOPPING MALL
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Old Chicago was conceived by designer/builder Robert Brindle after a visit to Knott's Berry Farm in BuenaVista, California.  In June of 1973, Robert Brindle brought a watercolor print of his proposed Old Chicago Towne to the Bolingbrook plan commission.  He proposed a 345,000 square foot indoor complex that would include outdoor-type amusement rides including a roller coaster, ferris wheel, and log flume, ringed by specialty shops, boutiques, and restaurants. He promised to "put Bolingbrook on the map."

For the next year both Bolingbrook and Romeoville vied for the development and tax money it would bring.  Eventually, Bolingbrook became the location, but it would be mid-1975 before the mall opened, after many construction delays.

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A pre-opening party for Old Chicago on June 17, 1975 for ten to sixteen thousand invited guests created mammoth traffic jams. It took half an hour to travel south on route 53 from Boughton Road to the mall. 

The visitors saw Chicago turn-of-the-century style architecture, a million dollars worth of memorabilia, two hundred stores and restaurants, and continuous vaudeville-type entertainment billed as the world's first indoor amusement park.  They were welcomed by the park's mascot, Charlie Baffle and enjoyed the first corkscrew roller coaster called "The Chicago Loop" and 31 other rides, including the Rotor, Yo-Yo, Flume, Chicago Cat (Zyklon), Windy City Flyer, plus the International Circus and Vaudeville theatre.
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Two restaurants served Old Chicago: Columbia House owned by Frank  Zaucha, owner of the Lemont truck stop and the Old Chicago Biergarten.

A contest was held for a young lady to tap dance on top of the dome on opening day.  The winner, Michelle Mauthe, was featured in an Old Chicago commercial, filmed that day in high winds by a cameraman inside a helicopter. 
The first few months after opening the mall hosted 50,000 guests per weekend. 

To keep visitors coming, couples were married while riding the coaster, Vincent Price was featured when the Haunted House opened, and Miss Teenage Chicago was crowned at Old Chicago.  Additionally, a post office opened and letters received an Old Chicago postmark.

In November of 1975, the "Comedy King of Air," 56-year old Jimmy Troy fell 20 feet to  his death from the trapeze in an aerial accident at the Old Chicago Circus.

Only six months after opening, the complex ran into financial troubles due to construction cost overruns.  Additionally, the park was hurt by a lack of anchor stores to bring in local repeat shoppers, and the opening of a competing amusement park in the same general region, which resulted in the mall being on the verge of bankruptcy.

In 1977 Old Chicago donated space to the Fountaindale Theater Project, the local amateur theater group, to perform plays.  In the summer, opening hours were shifted and more features were added to attract more people, including psychic fairs, battle of the drums competition, graduation nights, family nights, antique shows, car and cycle shows, the Auccopolco High Diving Team, and the "Human Torch" who literally set himself on fire.

Summer concerts, billed as Star-fest, featured such notable entertainers as:  Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Chuck Berry, Black Oak Arkansas, Willie Aames (from Eight is Enough), Dr. Hook, Commander Cody, Wild Cherry, and the Four Tops.

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In July, the Bolingbrook Jaycees stage their third annual fireworks display at Old Chicago, accompanied by parachuters and midget racers.  Also in July, billed under the headlines of "Public Executions at Old Chicago" a desperate public relations gimmick promoted the celebration of Bastille Day at the park with fun shows featuring "the rack", cat-o-nine-tails and other antique torture devices.

In August, Hollywood movie director Brian DePalma became the first person to try to demolish Old Chicago. While shooting a scene for his film "The Fury." DePalma and his special effects crews sent a part of a ride (the paratrooper) crashing through the window of the Biergarten. Extras in the movie include several Bolingbrook residents who may be seen if you look closely at the two minute sequence that immortalizes Old Chicago in film.

In September Deejays John Landecker, Steve King and Bob Sirott hosted part of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy telethon at Old Chicago. Some $27,000 was raised at the park alone.

In October, Old Chicago hosted the Pepsi Challenge, one of the first locations in the Chicago area and in November, opened The Fun Factory, a multi-level super play area for younger children, with its own separate admission fee and entrance as part of a $6 million park improvement program.  The improvement program also included colorful sound baffles hung under the dome to help prevent the deafening, unpleasant noise of outdoor amusement rides operating indoors.  New rides including the Screamer and Barnstormer airplane thrill ride plus a laser light show were added.

Unfortunately, all this was not enough to keep Old Chicago operating without shortfalls, and by 1978, the mall began closing early on Mondays and Tuesdays. 
While Old Chicago put Bolingbrook on the map, after numerous setbacks, the park closed on March 17, 1980, the rides were sold, and the last remaining stores left soon afterward - only five years after opening.  The famous lions in front of the door were modeled after those at the Art Institute of Chicago.  They were sold to Joseph Levy, who owned a car dealership next door to the center.  He moved them to his Skokie car dealership and painted them purple and white for Northwestern University's colors.  They were later sold to Terry Upton of McHenry, Illinois.  Plans to turn the mall into a factory outlet mall, a motion picture/TV production soundstage, a gambling casino, an international trade center, and a future spot for the 1992 World's Fair, all came to naught.  In February the Village hosted a "media event" to persuade the world that demolition of Old Chicago would be a fresh start. 

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By March, piles of rubble grew along Rt. 53 just south of I-55 as Old Chicago’s walls tumbled and in April, the dome quietly sank into the sunset with absolutely no fanfare.
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By the end of the month, not a trace of the former amusement park remains  - only memories.

Arena Auto Auction now sits on the site.

As an aside, the original property was farmed by the Earl Meisinger family.  He remembers being a three year old riding his tricycle across Rt. 53, a feat not possible today.

Excerpted from . . . .Bolingbrook Keeps Making History, Vol. 3, compiled by James D. Bingle, Savoring the History of Bolingbrook - A Keepsake Cookbook presented by the Bolingbrook Historic Preservation Commission, the Old Chicago Trivia courtesy of Village Clerk Carol Penning, Old Chicago Timeline from an article in The Met newspaper published April 17, 1986, and the Bolingbrook, Illinois 35th Anniversary Calendar.
Pictures courtesy of the Historic Preservation Commission archives. 
http://www.bolingbrookhistprescomm.org/old-chicago.html