Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year, 1925, Chicago!

Aerial view of Chicago in 1925. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Museum.

It's Jan. 1, 1925.

Let's see how Chicagoans rang in the new year, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

The banner headline on the front page reads, "NEW YEAR COMES IN MOIST."

The subhead says, "LOOP JAMMED CAFES FILLED REVELLERS TOO. Even Soda Founts Pack 'Em In."

The author writes, "You have to go back to armistice night to find the equal of last night's hilarious celebration of the coming of the new year, a celebration marked by huge crowds, indifference amounting to contempt for expense, the unimpeded flow of noise, exhileration (sic) and high spirits, and the vast quantity of alcoholic drinks, emanating from somewhere.

"Every hotel, cafe and cabaret manager in and out of the loop told the same story. The biggest crowds on record: the most lavish crowds. There wasn't a table to be had anywhere after 10 o'clock and in the better establishments there hasn't been a table available for a week."

It adds that, "The folks who couldn't get into the joy palaces found solace in the ice cream soda 'soft drink' parlors. There was no concealment. They asked the soda jerker for a glass of ginger ale, or perhaps only an empty glass, poured their hard liquor in, and drank her down with the bottled in bond resting peacefully on the chaste marble counter of the soda fountain. Practically everybody, in and out of the cafes, had his liquor and made no attempt to conceal it. John Kelley, dean of police reporters, said he hadn't seen so many inebriates in the loop  at one time in his life - except maybe on the night of the armistice."

The reporter then goes roving among the various entertainment and dining establishments of the area.

It mentions that the price tag for supper was generally $10, although at the Chez Pierre and the Club Royale, people dropped $12.50.

But for $10, you could grab supper at the Morrison, the Sherman and the Drake hotels.

Drake Hotel, Chicago Daily News photo

A set-up for a highball or cocktail was priced at $1, according to the article.

The drunken revelers gathered at places like the Midnight Frolics and Colosimo's.

In Bronzeville, at the Plantation, boxer Jack Johnson held court.

Jack Johnson, Chicago Daily News photo

Amazingly, few disturbances were created in this atmosphere.

The paper reported that, "A number of young men, unable to withstand a desire to smash crockery, were ejected from the Moulin Rouge on Wabash Avenue and several were seen being hurried from the Friars' Inn but police were not summoned."

It also mentions the arrest of George Beal, an automobile dealer residing in the 6700 block of Chappel Avenue. "He was charged with striking his wife as they left the Golden Lily restaurant, 309 East Garfield boulevard, and when she fell to the sidewalk, with kicking her."

By the way, the Golden Lily may be gone, but the building, located on 55th Street right by the elevated stop, remains.

Speaking of the dance halls, the paper mentions that they were packed. One of them, Dreamland, at Paulina and Van Buren, welcomed 1,500 couples, to the delight of proprietor Paddy Harmon.

Let's hear a couple of tunes by Doc Cook and his Dreamland Orchestra, both from 1924.

"The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else"

"The Memphis Maybe Man"

In addition to the Dreamland, there was the Pershing Palace at 64th and Cottage Grove, where prohibition official Archie Benson dined. And at the nearby Trianon and Midway Gardens, the paper reported, there was hardly room to dance.

The Tribune reported the outlying cafes full.

"One of the largest crowds of the night was at the Rainbo Gardens, Lawrence avenue and Clar, where 3,000 had made reservations at $11.10 a plate. An even larger crowd, 3,800 was at the Edgewater Beach hotel. Here the lounges and promenades were filled with tables or converted into dance floors. An ancient organ grinder and his monkey went about from table to table, up and down the corridors and banquet halls."

The great movie palaces were also celebrating the new year.

One ad for Balaban & Katz theaters proclaims that, "The  Spirit of Entertainment wishes you health, happiness and prosperity for the New Year. These are three most wonderful factors the Gods have to provide, and we want you to have them all."

The ad mentions the chain's theaters: the Chicago at State and Lake, the Tivoli at Cottage Grove and 63rd, the Riviera at Broadway and Lawrence, the Central Park at Roosevelt Road and Central Park Avenue and the Roosevelt at State and Washington.

Two of those, the Chicago and the Riviera, are still around in 2014 and thriving.

Chicago Theater, 1926. Chicago Daily News photo