Caught on video: Chicago after dark, 65 years ago

May 23, 2012

Here's another one of those old MGM Traveltalks movie shorts that surface on YouTube from time to time.

This one looks Chicago nightlife in 1947, and features a host of locales and places, many of which are no longer with us. Gosh, to see downtown's Randolph Street ablaze in neon at the 0:53 mark – now that's what a city should look like at night. And it is amusing seeing Mayor Martin Kennelly, Tribune publisher Col. Robert McCormick, Charles Dawes – vice president under Calvin Coolidge – eating and drinking at the Walnut Room in what was then the Bismarck Hotel (now the Hotel Allegro).

I wish they could have taken us inside Don the Beachcomber, an early Tiki restaurant at 101 E. Walton referenced at 2:22. That neon sign alone sold me. Instead they take us to the Chez Paree, where a troupe of women in gold pants leap and sashay before breaking into a kind of drunken sailor dance at 3:02. They suddenly wind up with long ropes or ribbons at 3:08 and are spooling and unspooling themselves like yoyos. The crowd, no doubt drunk now, is quite pleased. Curtains close.

These vintage color Chicago videos are a blast. Here's one from 1942 I profiled two years ago.