Here's Robert Brindle, the man behind Old Chicago showing off some
of the plans and artist renditions for Old Chicago.
Robert Brindle was a real estate developer from California who built shopping
centers. On one trip to Knott's Berry Farm he thought that it'd be
great to be able to have an amusement park where the temperature was perfect
year round and it would never rain or snow. He decided to mix an indoor
amusement park with a shopping mall and the concept for Old Chicago was
The Chicago area was decided upon for the mall and enclosed amusement park
concept due to it's cold winters and that it was a major market without
a major amusement park since Riverview Park closed back in the 1960's.
This is an artists rendition of the Old Chicago Fairgrounds, which is what
Old Chicago's amusement park was called and themed after. Most of
the park turned out pretty much like it looks on paper but the mountain
in the middle that both the Chicago Log Race (Log Flume) and Chicago Loop
go through did not make the cut.
Getting Old Chicago open was nothing short of a massive effort as Chicago's
legendary cold winters were even worse during construction leading the project
to go way over budget, a fact that would ultimately lead to it's downfall.
Looking at this aerial shot of Old Chicago some thirty years later it looks
smaller than it was. To me the reason it looks smaller is that we're
now used to today's compact cars and in our mind scale the building according
to that size. But we probably need to scale it up ten or fifteen percent
because that was 1975 when gas was cheep and cars were not just big but
This isn't the best photo but it shows the whole property from the rear.
You have Old Chicago in the center with parking in front and on the sides.
The highway is Route 53 and across it is what was the Old Chicago Town Shopping
Center which featured a K-Mart and a few other stores.
Here's the cover of one of the 15,000 invitations that was sent out for
Old Chicago's grand opening on June 26, 1975.
It would have been fun to have been one of those invited to be the first
to visit Old Chicago. Even though I was not one of those I remember
the magic and grandeur of my first visit. It really was something
I remember the lights from Old Chicago's Grand Opening. I was three
at the time and we lived just a town over in Romeoville. We all hopped
in the car and fought our way through traffic to get a look at the area's
newest attraction like everyone else in the surrounding area.
Old Chicago's Mayor Charlie Brindle was out with all of Old Chicago's costumed
characters including the Chicago Cub on the right for Old Chicago's Grand
Old Chicago sure started out big but like it's main attraction the Chicago
Loop it was one rollercoaster ride after that.