Two great families buried in the Jewish Waldheim Cemetery at Forest Park changed Chicago entertainment forever.
Israel Balaban (1862-1931) a Jewish immigrant arrived in Chicago in 1882 from Odessa Russia along with his wife Augusta “Goldie” Manderbursky (1868-1936). They opened a grocery store and fish shop on Chicago’s famous Maxwell Street. They and their five sons and daughter lived in the back of the store.
By 1910 the family had moved to the west side where two of their five sons, Barney Balaban (1887-1971) the oldest son, and A. J. Balaban (1889-1962) along with partners Sam Katz (1892-1961) and Sam’s father Morris Katz (1869 -1939) became the genius behind the Balaban and Katz chain of palatial “movie palaces “. These wonderful theatres shaped how almost every one of us and our parents sought entertainment and viewed the Hollywood movies. Continue reading “The Golden Era of Chicago Movie Theatres”
Of all the Chicago area cemeteries that I have researched in the last twenty-five years, Jewish Waldheim in Forest Park, a suburb west of Chicago, has proven to be the most fascinating and complex. Whether or not you are Jewish, I promise that this will be a fascinating topic.
The people buried here, for the most part, represent the amazing and touching stories of Jewish emigrants who discovered the old Maxwell Street neighborhood as a gateway to a new world of freedom and unlimited opportunity. Chicago once had the third largest Jewish population of any city in the world. By 1930 there were 300,000 Jews representing 9% of the population. They came primarily from Germany, Poland, Russia and Eastern Europe to seek a better life.
Jewish Waldheim became one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world, a patchwork of over 260 separate cemeteries within one large complex with different owners, rules, regulations, prices and appearance. There are now over 175,000 burials, possibly approaching 200,000. Continue reading “Over 260 Cemeteries Within ONE Cemetery”