With its opening-day marquee announcing ”An Acre of Seats in a Magic City,” the 4,381-seat Uptown is the largest freestanding theatre in the country. It’s also one of the most lavish movie palaces ever built. The crown jewel of the Balaban and Katz theatre chain, the Uptown, with its marble floors, intricate frescoes, and 24-karat gold and silver leaf designs, reflects the period’s extravagances. Its opulent grand entrance is adorned with ornate pillars engraved with angelic figurines at eye level. Higher up, these creatures transition into gargoyles that glare down at the patrons. The walls of the spacious auditorium show signs of damage, chiefly caused by unrelenting water that eroded the theatre over years of neglect. Restoration efforts at the Uptown, which was purchased for a reported $3.2 million by the owners of Jam Productions through a judicial sale in 2008, have sputtered to a halt, with repair estimates nearing $70 million.
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