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Midwest Arcade Crime State Street that Great Street (of Second City Sleaze)



The kind of place your mother warned you against! The Midwest Arcade was located at 512 S. State Street in Chicago. This photo dates to 1953 and was taken by Chicago Sun Times photographer Bill Knefel. I cropped it a bit to show the neon ladies. I hope Bill popped in for a peep, as a few months later he was probably snapping shots of stranded passengers in the latest snow storm as usual.

A few months later Louis Pommercheck, the cashier dispensing coins to peepers here was banged in the noggin by robbers. Pommercheck should have just handed over the sack of quarters. Ten years later, on September 25, 1963, this was one of EIGHT peepshows on State Street raided by police in a smut crackdown. Police arrested 15 people (no word if a recovered Pommercheck was among them) and hauled away 129 motion picture projectors with 6,271 reels of stags. Sounds like another example of protecting the people from what they want.


Marty? There is some film rotting away in a Chicago police storage warehouse you might consider preserving.

The raids continued at a regular pace in the Second City...without even trying I find similar busts in 1959 ( $150,000 worth of books, films and playing cards in Calumet City which I have made fun of earlier) 1965 (four State Street Shops) 1969 (20 smut shops in Chicago raided) 1970 (three more State Street shops...)

In 1960 3 men running a smut shack on Wabash were arrested for trying to pay off the cops to leave them alone. It didn't work.

Original Press Photograph of the Midwest Arcade by Bill Kessel, 1953. Collection Victor Minx