The Chicago Theatre
Chicago has always been a center for performing arts in the United States. There was even a movie named after it, released in 2002, which was based all on the behind the scenes happenings of the Chicago theatre back in the Jazz-age. The Chicago Theatre itself is a place of monumental importance when it comes to performing arts. Located in the North State Street of Chicago’s Loop area, it is a landmark location. It is a monumental, gigantic structure, seven stories tall & covers nearly half of a city block. Both the exterior & the interior of the building are a testimony of the artistic brilliance of the 1920s & 1930s. The exterior boasts Neo-Baroque plaster which was designed by the McNulty Brothers. The interior was designed under the influence of the Second French Empire &the Royal Chapel at Versailles, the staircases having been designed like one’s found inside the Paris Opera House. Complete with crystal chandeliers & bronze light fixtures, the Chicago Theatre is indeed a house of dreams.
Originally known as the Balaban& Katz Chicago Theatre, it was named after the people who ran it originally, A.J. & Barney Balaban& their partner Sam Katz. When it opened its doors on October 26th, 1921, it was proclaimed as the “Wonder Theatre of the World” because of its seating capacity of about 3880 people. After that, the theatres acted as a center for performing arts & live theatre for 40 years. There was a significant loss in business in the 1970s when the economy & society saw a major regression. The Chicago Theatre Preservation Group bought the site in 1984, & they tried to make the theatre into a picture theatre. But the attempts failed. & the building was closed on September 19th, 1985 due to viability issues. Due to the historical & monumental importance of The Chicago Theatre, the Chicago Theatre Preservation Council commenced restoration efforts in 1986 which cost a total of $ 9million. During these restorations, the theatre’s exterior & interior were restored back to their original grandeur & brilliance of the 1930s by two different architectural firms.
The renovations & restorations left the seating capacity very slightly diminished, from the original 3880 to the current 3600. The building adjoining the Chicago Theatre, the Page Building was also restored to house the theatre staff & support. The Chicago Theatre officially reopened its doors on September 10th, 1986 with a brilliant performance by Frank Sinatra. This was a great comeback for the Chicago Theatre, signified by the fact that Frank Sinatra had played at the theatre once before, all the time back in the 1950s. After its restoration to its former glory, the Chicago Theatre continues to be a monument in the North Loop renaissance, & has once again become the center for performing arts that it once was. The beauty of the Chicago Theatre as well as the history all contribute to the importance it holds in the Chicago landscape.