December 3, 2007

The Chicago Theatre

The Chicago Theatre

One of the most recognizable and memorable Chicago landmarks is the legendary Chicago Theatre. Located on State Street in the Loop, the theatre is home to stage plays, comedy performances, concerts, magic shows, and speeches. For several decades, it was the city's primary motion picture theatre and now focuses on live performances of popular music.

The Chicago Theatre was the first movie venue of its kind in America. Large, lavish, and full of grandeur, the structure astonishes its visitors with an elegant lobby, a majestic staircase, and a beautiful auditorium. Murals grace the stage and ceiling. Movie patrons were enticed by the plush environment and top-notch service. It is no wonder that the 5,000-seat theatre was called the 'Wonder Theatre of the World' when it opened in 1921.

The Chicago Theatre

Built in French Baroque style, The Chicago Theatre features an exterior six-story tall arch, designed similarly to the l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris, above its State Street marquee. Within the arch is a circular Tiffany stained glass window, bearing the coat of arms of the Balaban and Katz chain'two horses holding ribbons of 35-mm film in their mouths outlined by a border of film reels.

The grand lobby, five stories high and surrounded by gallery walkways, is modeled after the Royal Chapel at Versailles. The grand staircase is fashioned after that of the Paris Opera House and ascends to the various levels of the Great Balcony. Interior decorations including drapes and furniture were supplied by the famous Marshall Field and Company.

The Chicago TheatreThe Chicago TheatreThe Chicago Theatre

However, the most famous features of The Chicago Theatre are its sign and marquee. Both are landmarks in and of themselves and are remarkable symbols of State Street and Chicago. They have been featured in numerous movies and TV shows. In fact, the neon font was used in the title of the 2002 film Chicago. Interestingly enough, the marquee was not part of the original design, and the theatre itself had fallen into disrepair by the 1980s. Fortunately, after much renovation, the building was saved from the wrecking ball, and its famous sign now sits in the Smithsonian Institution. (The current marquee was installed in 1994 but maintains the look of the historic original.)

The Chicago Theatre is a fundamental part of State Street's history, present, and future. This active and vibrant venue provides a variety of entertainment, exemplifying why Chicago is both a creative and highly respected contender in today's theatre society.

The Chicago Theatre
The Chicago TheatreThe Chicago Theatre
The Chicago TheatreThe Chicago Theatre
The Chicago Theatre

Photo credit: (c/o Flickr) zol87, Motleye,'Matt Watts, haley7, Paul Morgan, robeeena, puroticorico, Joel Mann (1, 2, 3, 4)

The Chicago Theatre: 175 N State St; 312-902-1500
Mon ' Fri: 12 noon ' 6:00 p.m.
Paid parking lot
Public trans: Bus # 2, 6, 10, 29, 36, 62, 134, 135, 136, 144, 145, 146, 148
Brown/Green/Pink/Purple/Orange Line train (State)
Red Line train (Lake)


4 comments to The Chicago Theatre

  1. Oriental Theatre
    February 25th, 2008 at 7:04 am

    [...] Theatre. It was the first theatre Balaban and Katz had built in the Loop since the opening of the Chicago Theatre in [...]

  2. Eddie Izzard Coming to Chicago
    March 20th, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    [...] be at The Chicago Theatre, May 15-17. Get your tickets now by visiting either or [...]

  3. Alanis Morissette in Chicago
    July 25th, 2008 at 6:01 am

    [...] album shows a more vulnerable and, consequently, lovelier side to the artist. She'll be at the Chicago Theatre on Thursday, October 2. Tickets go on sale Saturday at 11 a.m. [...]

  4. Weekend Events (Aug 22-24, ‘08)
    August 21st, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    [...] MC Hammer and Cyndi Lauper perform at Glamorama 2008, a fall fashion fundraiser at The Chicago Theatre featuring top designers. A portion of ticket proceeds benefit the Art Institute of Chicago. (Aug [...]

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