From its opening in 1962 until its untimely closing in 1968 due to a fire, Eli’s Stage Delicatessen at 50 E. Oak Street was a hub of activity attracting the performers from Rush Street at Mr. Kelly’s: Bobby Short, Woody Allen, Barbara Streisand and Shecky Greene, to name a few, while attracting the singles and movers and shakers of the Gold Coast.

The neon sign for Eli’s Stage Delicatessen included a interchangeable banner so that Eli could recognize important events and people. The studios of photographer Harry Johnson were right across Oak Street and he fortunately photographed many of the important events.

The three black and white photos were taken in 1966 and the color photo celebrated the elevation of Sam Shapiro to Governor of Illinois when then Governor Otto Kerner resigned to become a Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.