Chicago Theater by Kevin Dooley

  • Chicago Theater: Impressive Architecture Details

    Getting to attend the Chicago Theater is a grand experience no matter what performance you're going to see. The architectural details are astounding, unlike any building built today. In 1983, this spectacular theater was designated as a Chicago landmark, and spectators enjoy every moment of the experience from entry at the arch until they regrettably leave.

    A brief history of the theater

    Designed by Cornelius W. Rapp and George L. Rapp, the building was built in 1921. It was immediately dubbed "Wonder Theater of the World" and became a prototype for other theaters being built at the time. Designed in French Baroque style, owners Barney and Abe Balaban and Sam and Morris Katz spent $4 million on the design and construction. This was a much more impressive amount of money at the time than it seems today, but is still a lot of money for a theater. The white terracotta exterior is recognizable instantly from many blocks away.

    What to notice about the Chicago Theater when you arrive

    Entering the theater is like stepping back in time. Borrowing from the grandiose architecture of other historical buildings, you'll immediately notice the entrance arch, which was designed in the pattern of Paris' Arc de Triomple. As you make your way into the lobby, take note of the architectural details patterned after the Royal Chapel at Versailles. The lobby stands a glorious five stories high and gallery promenades surround it at the mezzanine and balcony levels.

    What to observe on the way to your seat

    The grand staircase ascends to each level of the theatre, and was developed from the looks of the Paris Opera House. Here, millions of people have made their way to their seats to see countless numbers of the world's best performances, such as one of the many Chicago plays popular since the theater was built. As you enter the seven story auditorium, notice the six-story high "Chicago" sign. This symbol of State Street and the historical Chicago theater district are landmarks in their own right.

    What to look out for while enjoying Chicago shows in the theater

    Whether you're enjoying a Chicago broadway production or one of the many Chicago musicals, you'll want to take time before, during and after the performance to admire the spectacular 29-rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ. The extraordinary drapes, furnishings and interior decorations came from Marshall Field's. The grandiose crystal chandeliers and bronze light fixtures with Stuben glass shades are from Victor Pearlman and Co. However, one of the most impressive elements are the ornate plaster details by Northwestern Terra Cotta Company.

    Seating 3,600 people, the Chicago Theater auditorium is as wide as half a city block and almost that long. The murals above the stage are among the most known in the U.S. This spectacular venue has hosted some of the world's most talented and acclaimed performers, including Duke Ellington, Jack Benny, Benny Goodman, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, the Allman Brothers Band, Prince and countless others. On your way out, be sure to appreciate the history and craftsmanship of this theatre, one of a dying breed of such buildings around the country.


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