Located on what Frank Sinatra famously called “State Street, that great street,” the Chicago Theatre is prominently situated in the heart of Chicago’s downtown, just blocks south of the Chicago River and west of Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park. For nearly a century now, the Chicago Theatre has welcomed visitors through its stylish doors to behold a remarkable performance space graced by many of the world’s most beloved artists. Famous for the glitz of its unmistakable “Chicago” marquee sign, the Chicago Theatre still stands today as one of the city’s great landmarks.
The Chicago Theatre History and Background Information
The Chicago Theatre first opened its doors in 1921. It cost $4 million to build, and was constructed for the purpose of being one of the world’s finest movie theatres. As a result, no detail was overlooked. The outside of the Theater was designed in the French Baroque architectural style, and features a distinctive glazed terra-cotta arch that resembles the Arc de Triomphe. The famous Chicago Theatre marquee sign that reads CHICAGO in big bold letters is nearly 6 stories high. Inside, the Theatre’s lobby has five-story tall ceilings, and was laid out to invoke the Royal Chapel of Versailles, while the lovely staircases that wind up to the Theatre’s balcony seating recall similar features of the Paris Opera House.
Throughout its existence the Chicago Theatre has hosted shows and events by some of the past century’s most famous artists and personalities. It was placed on the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and declared an official Chicago Landmark in 1983. Today it seats 3,600 people, and continues to welcome guests from all over the world into its renowned performance space.
What’s at the The Chicago Theatre
While it’s true that the Chicago Theatre is quite possibly best known for its iconic marquee sign, the interior of the Chicago Theatre is quite the spectacle, too. No matter what brings you to the Chicago Theatre, its grand lobby is not to be missed. There you’ll behold the glamour of the red carpet as it gives way to a magnificent staircase leading to the Theatre’s opulent auditorium space. If you’re at the Chicago Theatre for a performance or show, you’ll be able to soak all this in as part of the excitement of a lively crowd; the Theatre also offers regular tours that provide guests with the opportunity to explore the delights of this famed structure in a more casual and informative setting.
There are multiple concession stands found throughout the Chicago Theatre, including one located on each level of the facility. They typically offer a mixture of snacks and a whole host of beverages like bottled water, soft drinks, juice, wine, beer, and various liquors. Whether or not any of these items will be allowed within the building’s main auditorium will depend on the guidelines of that day’s particular performance.
A number of amenities are offered at the Chicago Theatre. For those guests requiring assistance during their visit, the Chicago Theatre provides accommodations for mobility, hearing, and/or visual impairments. Several water fountains and ATMs are situated throughout the building, and merchandise booths may be accessed on the Theatre’s main floor.
Tips for Visiting the The Chicago Theatre
- Take a Chicago Theater Tour if you have a Go Chicago Card.
- There are many parking garages and lots to be found in the general vicinity of the Chicago Theatre. However, given the Chicago Theatre’s prominent location in Chicago’s Loop neighborhood, it can be quite expensive. If you’re open to alternative transportation methods, the Chicago Theatre is readily accessible by bus, CTA train, and Metra train.
- While the Chicago Theatre does have a dedicated Coat Check facility on site, where you can check coats and bags for $2/item, do keep in mind that all “large bags” and backpacks are strictly forbidden.
- If you’re coming to the Chicago Theatre with small children, one nice perk here is that they offer complimentary booster seats for use during performances. These free items are available for checkout from the Coat Check on a first-come, first-served basis.