With its bright and glittering marquee made famous in movies and television the Chicago Theatre is instantly recognizable. The elegant lobby and majestic auditorium take visitors back to a time of opulence – the early 1920’s, at the dawn of Hollywood’s golden age. Today it stands as a national icon showcasing the best of the stage.
When the Chicago Theatre opened its doors in 1921 it was the flagship movie house for Balaban and Katz Theatres. No expense was spared in its building and the department store icon Marshall Field’s supplied its lavish furnishings and interior decoration. The French Baroque style design was a show piece in itself and the latest modern conveniences like air conditioning made the theatre an instant hit. A 50-piece orchestra performed in the pit, playing in time with the latest silent pictures featuring such names as Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin.
With the cinema business in decline the theatre closed its doors in 1985 – the orchestra pit having long been silent, the silver screen now dark, the theatre was slated for demolition. With its stunning interior design and architectural importance however the building had great historic significance and was saved. In 1986 a multi-million dollar restoration project began. Almost a year later, meticulously restored to its original glory, The Chicago Theatre reopened with a gala performance by Frank Sinatra. Now a stage venue for concerts and the performing arts The Chicago Theatre is one of those great, historic, opulent ties to the past where some of today’s greatest shows can be seen.
The Chicago Theatre is located in the Loop district, just next to the “L” stop at State/Lake and served by the Orange, Brown and Green lines. The underground Red line serves the Lake stop, just outside the theatre’s front doors. Bus numbers 29, 36, 62, 145 and 146 make stops along State Street and near the theatre.