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Rewind Chicago: The Rise, Fall And Revival Of State Street

(Credit: Tumblr/The Man On Five)

(Credit: Tumblr/The Man On Five)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — State Street, once known as “that Great Street,” had fallen on hard times by the late 1970s.

Early in the 1900s it was a destination point for shopping and night life.

Marshall Field’s State Street flagship department store was the place for shopping.

The Chicago Theater, when it opened in the 1920s was called “The Wonder Theatre Of The World.”

(Credit: Stanley Kubrick/Library Of Congress/Look Magazine)

(Credit: Stanley Kubrick/Library Of Congress/Look Magazine)

It thrived though the 1960s, but then fell on hard times.

It was the same for the rest of State Street, when the picture (above) was shot in 1978 at the corner of Congress Parkway.

The Follies Theater (seen at the left) was a microcosm of State Street’s decline. It started in the late 1800s as vaudeville house and oddities museum.

In the 1950s, it was a burlesque theater. By the early 1970s, it was faced with a choice: offer porn or close, according to Cinema Treasures. It closed and was lost to fire within year after this photo was taken.

The first Sears State Street flagship store is shown at the right. The Dirksen Federal Building, and First National Bank Of Chicago (now Chase) building, can be seen in the background to the left.

Since then, State Street has experienced a revival–starting with the reopening of the street to car traffic in the 1980s. In 1979, then Mayor Jane Byrne restricted traffic to buses, further eroding interest. Meantime, all the shopping attraction shifted to North Michigan Avenue.

The revival on that corner was sparked by university expansion and the Harold Washington Library.

State Street, Congress Parkway On May 20, 2014. (Credit: John Dodge)

State Street, Congress Parkway On May 20, 2014. (Credit: John Dodge)

The crown jewel of the Chicago Public Library system sits on the corner where the seedy old theatre stood.

Sears moved up the street to open a new store, but that just recently closed.

Robert Morris University took over the building.

In the new photo, the John Marshall Law School is visible in the distance to the left.

Behind the camera lens in the 1978 photo–and seen in the panorama image below–is now DePaul’s University Center (far right).

A panoramic view of State Street at Congress Parkway. (Credit: John Dodge)

It’s not Michigan Avenue, but all of that led to more small shops and chain stores returning to the street.

On the north end, near the now-restored and revitalized Chicago Theater, the School of the Art Institute built a new dorm.

A high-end Walgreen’s and the Joffrey Ballet occupy space at Randolph.

And while the empty space across the Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) called Block 37 has finally been developed, retail growth has been slowed by the downturn in the economy in 2008.

However, the building is slowly adding tenants and a large-scale Latin American-themed eatery is on the drawing board.

Rewind Chicago is an occasional series on Chicago’s past in pictures. John Dodge is Executive Producer of cbschicago.com. Click here for previous Rewind Chicago features.