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Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois


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Author Topic: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois  (Read 8514 times)
Desolate Angel
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« Reply #135 on: November 22, 2010, 11:56:31 pm »



Book Old Chicago for your next group outing!
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #136 on: November 22, 2010, 11:57:27 pm »

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« Reply #137 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




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
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #138 on: November 23, 2010, 12:01:11 am »



The shopping mall and Columbian House restaurant

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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #139 on: November 23, 2010, 12:04:02 am »



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.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #140 on: November 23, 2010, 12:04:23 am »

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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #141 on: November 23, 2010, 12:04:58 am »



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

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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #142 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.

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« Reply #143 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://lisawebworld1.tripod.com/oldchicago5.html
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« Reply #144 on: December 05, 2010, 05:39:56 am »

The End of Old Chicago (2-3-1986)
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John R. Schmidt on 02.03.10 at 12:01 AM | no comments |


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.
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« Reply #145 on: December 05, 2010, 05:40:36 am »

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« Reply #146 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
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« Reply #147 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
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« Reply #148 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.
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« Reply #149 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
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