MUSIC - Shooz by Styx
Photographed in 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994 and 2003 using film.
International Amphitheater (originally called the Chicago Amphitheater) - Opened in 1934, closed and demolished in 1999. Aramark now sits on the site.
Location - International Amphitheater 4220 S. Halsted St. Chicago, Illinois -- Bounded by W. Exchange Ave., S. Morgan St., W. 45th St.
The faded peeling brick building at 4220 S. Halsted Street has disappeared from the Chicago landscape. The International Amphitheater, located in the Bridgeport section of Chicago, sat neglected for years, and was finally razed in 1999. Going back to the beginning, the Amphitheater sat adjacent to the old Chicago stockyards. Located on Halsted at 42nd Street, the Amphitheater was built in the 1930s on the site of the old Dexter race track. Dexter had stood for over 50 years before it was destroyed by fire in the 1920s.
The Amphitheater was nondescript. It looked like a huge warehouse. Creature comforts it did not have. Rat's on the other hand, well they sometimes outnumbered the fans. Gordie Howe once said the rats lived in the locker room, and the players were just visitors. Basically, the Amphitheater was a dump. It was the poor red headed stepchild of Chicago stadium. There wasn't much to the building. except its location, next to the stockyards. The stockyards closed in 1971, and the area became rundown. It still had a viable concert business thru the 70's. But when the new Rosemont horizon arena was built in 1980, the Amp's concerts dried up. During the last 2 decades of it's life, the Amphitheater was used for rodeos, dances and Hispanic based concerts. Used car auctions, warehouse sales and the usual electronics shows dotted the Amphitheater floor for the last years of the building.
The Amphitheater did have a few tenants. In 1961, the Chicago Packers of the NBA came into the league. They changed their name to the Zephyrs the following season. But low attendance and a sub par arena forced the team to relocate to Baltimore and become the Bullets.
The second chance at life also occurred with the NBA. The Amphitheater was the first home for the Chicago Bulls who began play in 1966. They lasted one season before they packed up and moved to Chicago stadium. The Amphitheater was jilted again.
The third and last major tenant was the Chicago Cougars of the old WHA. In 1972 they made their debut as an original WHA team. The team had some success in their second season, making it all the way to the Avco cup finals against the Houston Aeros. Even making the WHA finals posed problems for the Cougars. They had NO arena to play in. It seems a show starring Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan was booked into the Amp. Scrambling for an available place to play, they settled on the Randhurst twin ice arena in suburban Mt. Prospect. Playing the finals in an arena that was worse than the Amp was typical of the Cougar franchise. They struggled thru the 1975 season. But due to a lackluster team, low attendance and a dank arena, the Cougars disappeared from the WHA after the 75 season. No one really missed them though. There were a few die hard fans, but most hockey fans in Chicago went to the stadium to see the Blackhawks.
The Amphitheater had its share of concerts. From old blue eyes, Frank Sinatra, to the Rolling stones, to even the Beatles, music filled the warehouse like arena. In 1957 Elvis Presley wore is gold lame suit for the first time. The concert was held at the Amphitheater.
The Amphitheater had its share of political conventions. It was also the host of the 1968 democratic national convention. The same convention that sparked riots in the city of Chicago.
In 1999 the Amphitheater was finally put to rest. Like the stockyards that closed 28 years earlier, the Amphitheater was finally demolished. Today, no marker is present to acknowledge the contributions of this arena. Now, an Aaramark uniform service plant sits on the site.
4200 Halstead street, Chicago. The International Amphitheater sits idle. Not much happens here anyomre. The Amp was built for livestock shows and later made into a regular arena. 9/91
Map of the Int. Amp. area. Photo from internet.
Peeling paint reveals the red brick facade of the old Amp. 3/86
Whitewashed with blue trim. A dingy building sits like a rotting relic from another era. The parking lot across the street dosen't get used much anymore 3/86
The view of the back of the Amp. During the last few decades, the huge lot was used for storage trailers. 3/86
The back entrances to the Amp. It's hard to believe that this building once housed a hockey team and the NBA Bulls. 3/86
The massive air conditioning unit sits idle. 3/86
The Amp was built on the site of the old Dexter race track. The track burned to the ground in the 20's, and the Amp was built in the 30's. It was constructed on the edge of the Chicago stockyards. The stockyards closed in 1971, and the Bridgeport neighborhood went into a decline. 3/86
It is 8 years later, and the god awful white paint has been blasted off. Life has been brought back to the Amp, allbeit temporarily. 10/94
The Amp was non descript. If you drove by it, you would never know that it was an arena. 10/94
The interior of the arena. The ice surface was not NHL regulation. You can see the dingy feel the arena had. 10/94
The north part of the arena. This was used as a parking garage. 10/94
A view of the seating bowl and from what I gather, the pressbox at the back of the arena. 10/94
Old wooden seats were not comfortable. I am sure they were sold at auction when the building was razed. 10/94
Below is the concession stands. The Amp was not built for comfort. 10/94
The locker room. NOT major league at all. Hell not even minor league. Rats infested the building. 10/94
June 2003, and the Amp is no more. Reduced to rubble and a weed infested vacant lot. The property will be turned into an Aaramark uniform plant, which still stands on the site today.
The Amp site from Halstead street. It was a poor cousin of the more popular Chicago stadium. It was basically a second class citizen in Chicago. It did have it's moments, especially political conventions. Remember 1968? NOT a good time to be in Chicago. It stood for almost 70 years, and at one time it was a buzz of activity. But after the stockyards closed and the Rosemont horizon opened in the burbs, most activites dried up. The Amp lay a rotting hulk on Chicago's south side. Finally in 2000, it was mercifully put out of its misery. It didn't have the charm and love that Chicago stadium had, but it did have a history. Hopefully someday a marker will be placed at the site were alot of Chicagoans spent many a night under the roof of the old warehouse. 6/03