MUSIC - Sweet home Chicago by Ramsay Lewis and the Urban Knights
Photographed in 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994 and 2003 using film.
Chicago Stadium - Opened on March 28, 1929 and closed on September 9, 1994. The stadium was demolished in 1995 and the site is now a parking lot for the United Center.
Location 1800 W. Madison St. Chicago, Illinois -- Bounded by W. Warren Blvd., N. Wolcott Ave., N. Damen Ave. Known as "the MADHOUSE on Madison."
Chicago stadium, "the madhouse on Madison." It was more than just an arena. It was home to millions of Chicagoans for 65 years. Boxing, basketball, hockey, concerts and yes, even a football game were played inside the old barn. The stadium was built in 1929 for 7 million dollars by Paddy Harmon. Located at 1800 West Madison, it was a short distance from the famed downtown Chicago loop. The stadium opened with a boxing match on March 28, 1929. In its day, it was the premier arena in the United States.
Hockey was king in the stadium, and the Blackhawks were the rulers. Stars like Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall, the late Keith Magnuson, Denis Savard, Stan "the cat" Mikita and the great Bobby Hull, played on the stadium ice. And all have had their numbers hoisted to the rafters at the stadium. Even the legendary Bobby Orr donned the white jersey with the Indian head logo for a while. When the Hawks were playing, the stadium literally shook. I saw 2 games there, and what was amazing to me was, even during the national anthem, the building was shaking. After every Hawks goal, a foghorn would sound underneath the scoreboard. The horn was taken off a ship that was on Lake Michigan. You talk about LOUD. That would get the Hawks fans going even more. The stadium had the smallest ice surface in the NHL. In 1994, the Blackhawks played their last games at the old arena. The final regular season goal was scored by Dirk Graham. The final goal scored by a Blackhawk was during the 1994 playoffs. Jeremy Roenick scored a goal in game 4 in overtime to give the Blackhawks a 4 - 3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The final goal was by the Leafs Mike Gartner. Hockey had sadly come to a close at Chicago stadium.
The Bulls were running rampant during the late 80's thru 1994. Led by Michael Jordan, the Bulls won 3 world championships at the stadium. The other 3 were won across the street at the new United Center. As you might have guessed, Bulls tickets were very hard to get during their championship run. It didn't start out that way. Their first season was in 1966, and the Bulls were playing their home games at the old International Amphitheater on Halsted Street. They moved into the stadium in 1967 to sparse crowds. It wasn't until air Jordan appeared that the Bulls began selling out every night. The numbers of Jerry Sloan, Bob Love, Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan were retired and hung from the rafters along side the Blackhawks retired numbers.
The monsters of the Midway, the Chicago Bears even played a game inside the walls of Chicago stadium. The 1032 NFL championship game was played there due to frigid conditions and a huge snowstorm that left Wrigley field unplayable. The Bears defeated the Portsmouth Spartans 9-0.
Everyone who was anyone in music played at Chicago stadium. From Led Zeppelin to the Who, to Frank Sinatra, to the King, Elvis, all played inside the stadium. Presidential conventions were held there too, along with ice shows, circuses and the ever popular wrestling matches. The final concert was held in March of 1994. Pearl Jam, urge overkill and the frogs rocked the old arena one last time. The arena was host to the 1948, 1961, 1974 and 1991 NHL all star games. The NBA held their all star games there twice, in 1973 and again in 1988.
The two most distinct pieces if you will, of Chicago stadium were gate 3 1/2, and the massive Barton organ. Gate 3 1/2 was on the West side of Chicago stadium. Fans would line up to see the stars and athletes enter the building. The Barton organ was literally built into the rafters of Chicago stadium. The organ was so big, that it took 24 railroad cars to transport it from Oshkosh Wisconsin, where it was built. At full volume, the organ had the power of 25 100 piece brass bands, and could literally blow out every window inside the stadium. THAT is loud. It sat on it's own perch at the East end. Al Melgard, the "Melancholy Dane" was the house organist for 4 decades and sat at the console at the East end of the stadium. Eventually after the stadium was demolished, the console ended up in the music room of Phil Maloof in Las Vegas. Maloof is one of the owners of the Sacramento Kings of the NBA.
Finally in 1994, most anything from the stadium that could be, was auctioned off. Demolition started in 1995, and a few months later, the madhouse was reduced to rubble. It is now a parking lot directly across the street from the United center.
She may be gone, but like so many other grand stadiums and arenas, she will NEVER be forgotten. The new United center may have all the bells and whistles and luxury boxes, but it will never replace the rocking madhouse on Madison. Chicago stadium WAS and STILL is the greatest building in hockey. "Remember the roar!"
1800 West Madison, the fabled "madhouse on Madison". The building is closed now, and awaiting the auction and final demolition. October 1994
Chicago Stadium map. Just west of downtown Chicago and the Loop. Photo from internet.
The cornerstone at the southeast corner of the arena. Oct. 1994
My first ever view of Chicago stadium. May 1986.
The view looking west from Wood St. May 86
The view looking east from Wolcott St.. You can see the 3 1/2 door in the middle. May 86
The Blackhawks logo outside the main entrance on Madison. May 86
Chicago stadium from the Sears tower. To the immediate left of Chicago stadium is where the United center would eventually be built. 3/87
The main entranace from Madison. 3/87
The main entrance off Madison, on a cold nasty rainy day in March 3/87
Going to the Hawks game. Notice parking is only 6 bucks? GEEZ how times have changed. 3/87
The press box at the west end of Chicago stadium. March 87
The south side of the arena, which would be the Madison side. 3/87
To the right of the picture, you will see a Cutty Sark sign. Above that is where the Barton organ sat. 3/87
The second scoreboard. The original Chicago stadium scoreboard is in the basement of the hockey hall of fame in Toronto. March 87
You can see the championship Blackhaws banners on the east wall, and the retired number 4 for the Bulls Jerry Sloan. 3/87
A better view of where the massive Barton organ stood. 3/87
Looking to the north towards the Warren Blvd., side of the building. 3/87
Chicago stadium sits on a cold rainy day. The view is from the Warren Blvd. side of the arena. 9/91
A close up of the red folding chairs ready for a Hawks game. 9/91
The Cutty Sark sign has been replaced by Canadian Club. You can see how big the organ is. 9/91
The view from the second deck. 9/91
Hockey was definatly king here. Even in an exhibition game, they sold it out and the building still ROCKED. 9/91
The end is near. Workers are inside stripping the great lady of anything that will sell. This view is looking west on Warren Blvd. 10/94
The demolition trailers are in place. This is at the corner of Madison and Wood. You can see part of the United center to the left in the picture. 10/94
Out with the old and in with the new. Side by side. 10/94
Looking east towards downtown Chicago on Madison on a late fall afternoon. It is the twilight for Chicago stadium. Soon, she will be reduced to a parking lot. 10/94
Inside before the Lelands auction. 10/94
From ice level, looking east. The Barton organ has already been removed. 10/94
Some of the hundreds of auction items. Bulls lockers, turnstiles, a bench from the Hawks locker room. 10/94
Looking west towards the press box. Most of the seats have been removed from the north side of the arena. 10/94
This platform is where the organ was. It was at the east end of the building. It has already been removed. 10/94
What is left of the press box at the west end. 10/94
Imagine walking UP these steps with skates on, or size 22 feet. Thats how teams got to floor level. The locker rooms were in the basement. 10/94
The concourse on the south side of the stadium. No more beers will be sold....EVER. 10/94
The concession stand sits vacant, waiting for it's dismantling and ultimate destruction. The stairs leading to the upper bowl wait for fans that will never come again. 10/94
The logos of the two main tenants of Chicago stadium. 10/94
The Madison street lobby and ticket booths. 10/94
Ticket booths left silent forever. 10/94
The exit to Warren Blvd. 10/94
The basement of Chicago stadium. 10/94
I would LOVE to have this hanging in my garage. 10/94
This hallway leads to the Blackhawks and Bulls locker rooms. 10/94
A place that most people never got to see. The Blackhawks dressing room. It is being slowly torn apart. 10/94
Bobby Hull, the golden jet, Stan Mikita, Glen Hall, Bobby Orr, Steve Larmer, Chris Chelios, Tony Esposito, all used this locker room. 10/94
The weight room used by both the Hawks and Bulls in the basement of Chicago stadium. 10/94
Chicago stadium had its own sauna for the players. 10/94
If you have ever wondered where the visitors dressed at the stadium, here it is. This is one of the two visitors locker rooms. This one was for basketball. It's slowly being stripped of anything that can be sold. 10/94
This is the shower room that leads to the sauna in the Blackhawks dressing room. I can imagine how god awful HOT it got in that room after a game. 10/94
Inside what is left of the Bulls locker room. 10/94
Part of the Bulls locker room with my camera bag to the right. 10/94
Looking down from the rafters and catwalk. 10/94
The visitors dressing room for hockey at the stadium. 10/94
This is up in the roof of the stadium. In this room is where the blowers and pipes were located for the Barton organ. 10/94
Al Melgard at the Barton organ. Photo from internet.
The famous Barton organ console. Photo from internet.
Part of the pipes for the organ waiting to be removed. 10/94
One last view from the catwalk. 10/94
More stuff to be auctioned off. 10/94
The sun is going down on the old girl. Looking east towards downtown and the loop. 10/94
One last look at where the scribes used to sit on many a cold winters night. 10/94
I have one of these red folding seats in my office.
A concession stand on the main concourse sits dark. 10/94
One of the portable concession stands for beer, about to go to auction. 10/94
The famed gate 3 1/2 where so many greats went thru. Now it lets in the demolition teams. 10/94
Looking east towards downtown from the Warren Blvd. side. 10/94
The logos have been removed from the marquees and the Warren Blvd. doors are closed forever. 10/94
The fire escape that surrounded the building. 10/94
Looking thru the glass on the Madison side at the lobby entrance. 10/94
The corner of Wolcott and Madison. The players parking lot. 10/94
One last look at the madhouse on Madison. Rest in peace...... 10/94
Push forward 9 years. The corner of Wolcott and Madison. No longer standing is Chicago stadium. It is now a parking lot for the United center. 7/03
This would have roughly been the entrance for gate 3 1/2 at old Chicago stadium. 7/03
The monument to the Blackhawks in the parking lot of old Chicago stadium. This is on the Madison side. 7/03
The last few sunsets cascading down on Chicago Stadium. 10/95
Looking down Madison towards downtown and the Loop. 10/94
Twilight will soon turn to black for Chicago stadium. It was one HELL of a building. I have been fortunate to see most of the original 6 buildings for hockey. This is by far my favorite. Chicago stadium had that midwest charm. It was an arena. No, it didn't have the bells and whistles that new arenas have. What killed it was its age and lack of luxury boxes and size. I wish the could have saved the old lady, but there was no way. She was a workhorse for Chicago for over 65 years. United center is nice, but it will never ever replace the aura Chicago stadium had. It truly was the loudest building I have ever been in. Remember the ROAR! Rest in peace old friend.