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Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois


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Desolate Angel
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« on: November 21, 2010, 11:33:11 pm »



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
« Last Edit: November 21, 2010, 11:34:07 pm by Desolate Angel » Report Spam   Logged

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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2010, 11:36:43 pm »

Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
The Beginning



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2010, 11:38:07 pm »



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2010, 11:38:56 pm »



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2010, 11:39:46 pm »



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2010, 11:40:50 pm »



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. 
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2010, 11:41:52 pm »



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2010, 11:42:27 pm »



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2010, 11:43:20 pm »



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2010, 11:44:03 pm »



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
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2010, 11:45:45 pm »

Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, Illinois
The Mall



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2010, 11:50:07 pm »



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2010, 11:51:14 pm »



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2010, 11:51:51 pm »



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2010, 11:53:20 pm »



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.
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