Balaban and Katz chose to build their theatres—many designed by famous architects Rapp and Rapp—in rapidly growing outlying districts, convenient for the middle class population which provided the bulk of their patrons, as well as downtown Chicago. The company is notable for being the first to offer air conditioning in its theatres and for including lavish stage shows. It built the Chicago, Uptown, and Central Park Theatres in Chicago. Famous Players-Lasky Corporation bought a controlling interest in Balaban and Katz Corporation in 1926. Balaban and Katz operated over a hundred theatres in the mid western United states. The names of all the theatres it operated are listed on the website, www.balabanandkatzfoundation.com . There were more than 50 Chicago-area theatres operated by the Balaban and Katz company, as indicated on an old ticket book,1 include:
South, Maryland, Regal, Southtown, Tivoli, Tower.
West: Central Park, Iris, Manor, Marbro, Paradise, Senate, and State.
Suburban Chicago: Berwyn, Coronet, La Grange, Park, Valencia, and Varsity.
Sam Katz, a vice president at Balaban and Katz became president of The Publix theatres group, a division of Famous Players Lasky. Its secretary, Barney Balaban eventually became president of Paramount Pictures. Beginning in 1939, Balaban and Katz, along with parent company Paramount, was involved in the development of television broadcasting. The company owned several experimental television licenses, and in 1943 began broadcasting over WBKB (now WBBM-TV), the first commercial television station in Chicago.
Today, the trademark for the company is owned by a historical foundation called the Balaban and Katz Historical Foundation The foundation was founded by descendants of the original Balaban brothers. Its collection of B and K corporate documents is located in New Jersey. Theatre Historical Society, in Elmhurst, Illinois, maintains an extensive collection of architectural blue prints and large format pictures of many Balaban and Katz theatres. Additional historic photos and theatre information can be found at Cinema Treasures and Compass Rose In 2006, a documentary, Uptown: Portrait of a Palace, featured one of Balaban and Katz's most famous theatres, the Uptown. 2006 also saw the publication of a book on many of the B&K theatres, titled The Chicago Movie Palaces of Balaban and Katz, written by David Balaban with a foreword by theatre historian Joseph DuciBella and published by Arcadia Publishing.