My grandmother used to take the streetcar from Brighton Heights to the Garden Theater for Saturday matinees. She was a teenager in the 1940s when a dime would get you a double feature, cartoons and newsreels. The theater originally opened in 1915, and even thirty years after it opened its doors, it was known as the happening place to see the best movies.
Nana remembers taking the trolley with her girlfriends on a Saturday afternoon down to the Northside. They weren’t allowed to go with boys, or to see grown-up movies, although there might have been exceptions in the Irish Catholic household for Jimmy Cagney or Maureen O’Hara pictures.Her friends would bring picnic lunches to West Commons Park, near the deer statue, and climb the bridge to watch trains or gaze at the hazy downtown skyline.
On sunny days, they would spend their return streetcar fare on pop and games at the American Legion and walk back up the hill.I’m writing this for the folks who remember classier times on the Garden Theater Block, and long to see such a grand old theater restored. And also for the young folks, who have never had a local movie theater that they could venture out to for weekend adventures and create their own Hollywood memories.
-Nils Hanczar, Central Northside