Chicago Theatre

175 N. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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Showing 251 - 275 of 277 comments

Broan on July 21, 2004 at 12:40 pm

Sorry, I should have been more clear, the links are there to show a chronology, there aren’t any shots of the new marquee. I’m going to go back down there and take some later this week.

Mikeoaklandpark on July 21, 2004 at 7:38 am

I donb’t see any of the new pictures.

Broan on July 20, 2004 at 10:49 pm

I should add that this page shows that the previous marquee was installed in 1949, and I have photos of the Chicago with the marquee stripped from earier this year.

Broan on July 20, 2004 at 10:08 pm

The new marquee is being installed today, and wow, does it look great! The colors are all very smooth and vivid. Only thing I don’t care for is that they did not bring back the “Chicago” signs on the side boards that was in the original iteration of this marquee.
I’ve assembled a full progression of the theater marquee; links are listed below.
Marquee Version 1:
View link
This site includes a number of excellent vintage shots of theaters, be sure to check it out.
View link
View link
and lit, View link
V4.5: It looks like due to age, the old marquee was being supported by the temporary columns seen in this photo, necessitating the new one.
View link Also, if you look to the far right on the building, you can see the faded painted billboard for the Chicago. The site I got this from also has a couple interesting pictures showing what the Chicago looks like from the stage
V5: This is currently being installed; unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me tonight

markymark on July 18, 2004 at 3:52 pm

The last film I viewed at The Chicago was Al Pacino’s “Cruising” in the late ‘70s. What a thrill getting off the the elevated train there at State & Lake and having all those theatre marquees (The Chicago,The State Lake,The Oriental,The United Artists,The Woods,The Roosevelt & The McVickor) to look at!

PhilH on June 12, 2004 at 8:16 pm

I would sometimes forget about the films and gaze at the theatre. The ceiling was as good as it gets!

JimRankin on March 25, 2004 at 7:10 am

The fabulous CHICAGO is often mentioned as one of the ‘royalty’ in America’s collection of what was once some 30,000 palaces, according to one estimate. Opening in 1921, it was among the earliest of the truly grand Movie Palaces, and, along with Chicago’s long-lost TIVOLI movie palace, it was the harbinger of the elaborate creations of imagination and artistry to come. Rapp&Rapp may have started their real theatres with the still-going-strong AL RINGLING THEATRE in Baraboo, Wis., but it was the opening of the enormous and ornate CHICAGO that changed the way movie houses were built. It even prompted people to call such edifices ‘the Chicago style’, and many a theatre architect had to sit up and take notice —even in our large coastal cities which often smirk at the developments of the heartland. That this landmark has also had its vertical sign and now, its marquee, restored is another indicator of its preeminence. For those who have never seen this wonder, or who would like to see photos of its first and second decors (as distinguished from today’s version) there was published in 1981 (and later reprinted) a 50-page ANNUAL with color cover, titled “Chicago Theatre, A Sixtieth Anniversary Salute”. Though now listed as Out Of Print, it is possible that it could be reprinted again if enough interest is shown.

To obtain any available Back Issue of either “Marquee” or of its ANNUALS, simply go to the web site of the THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA at:
and notice on the sidebar of their first page the link “PUBLICATIONS: Back Issues List” and click on that and you will be taken to their listing where they also give ordering details. The “Marquee” magazine is 8-1/2x11 inches tall (‘portrait’) format, and the ANNUALS are also soft cover in the same size, but in the long (‘landscape’) format, and are anywhere from 26 to 40 pages. Should they indicate that a publication is Out Of Print, then it may still be possible to view it via Inter-Library Loan where you go to the librarian at any public or school library and ask them to locate which library has the item by using the Union List of Serials, and your library can then ask the other library to loan it to them for you to read or photocopy. [Photocopies of most THSA publications are available from University Microforms International (UMI), but their prices are exorbitant.]

Note: Most any photo in any of their publications may be had in large size by purchase; see their ARCHIVE link. You should realize that there was no color still photography in the 1920s, so few theatres were seen in color at that time except by means of hand tinted renderings or post cards, thus all the antique photos from the Society will be in black and white, but it is quite possible that the Society has later color images available; it is best to inquire of them.

Should you not be able to contact them via their web site, you may also contact their Executive Director via E-mail at:
Or you may reach them via phone or snail mail at:
Theatre Historical Soc. of America
152 N. York, 2nd Floor York Theatre Bldg.
Elmhurst, ILL. 60126-2806 (they are about 15 miles west of Chicago)

Phone: 630-782-1800 or via FAX at: 630-782-1802 (Monday through Friday, 9AM—4PM, CT)

MarkW on February 9, 2004 at 10:34 am

I will be in Chicago in March. Is the Chicago open for tours? Or can you only go in when there is a show? Any info will be appreciated.


kittlove on February 9, 2004 at 9:54 am

I’m a radio reporter/producer in Chicago looking for people in the area who can share their memories of the Chicago Theatre. Please contact me at


Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on February 5, 2004 at 3:23 pm

I would get lost trying to find the projection room in that place… shesh

richardg on January 27, 2004 at 7:32 pm

Yes, quite often the Chicago coupled a first run movie and a stage show for one admission. I remember seeing Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis at the Chicago theatre. The Chicago theatre was kept up much better than the Uptown in the 50’s but it still wasn’t as impressive.

MovieMan26 on January 27, 2004 at 10:31 am

Before this theater was A performing arts & concert venue it was A movie theater. The plitt theaters chain operated it for the last time in 1985.

whitemuthavolpi on January 21, 2004 at 9:55 am

In case you were wondering, the original sign now resides at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

Menutia on January 12, 2004 at 4:24 am

For those of you in the city, Watch Carefully! Demolition work has begun on the landmark marquee. The underside portion of the sign has been removed and scrapped. I watched workers testing the individual circuits last Friday.

gangiparker on January 5, 2004 at 10:09 am

I’m a Chicagoan interested in learning what happened to the original Chicago Theatre sign.
When they renovated, where did that sign go?
Would you know who made the original sign?
Thank you so much for any information.

HowieT on December 10, 2003 at 6:09 pm

Thank ou very much – I enjoyed the links.
If my memory serves me well – the WOODS and UNITED ARTISTS
had been reduced to exploitation films and low admission
policies. Such a shame they are now gone.

HowieT on December 10, 2003 at 10:37 am

Whatever happend to the WOODS THEATER and the UNITED ARTISTS?
I was in downtown Chicago back in the late 80’s and both venues
were still standing – boared up and closed.

sdoerr on November 28, 2003 at 4:25 pm

I like the facade and marquee, new, but truely traces back to the old roots.

unknown on November 6, 2003 at 11:42 am

I lived in Chicago in the late fifties and remember well going down to State Street to the movies in this wonderful place.

bruceanthony on November 5, 2003 at 10:03 pm

Why doesn’t the Radio City Christmas Spectacular play the Chicago instead of that theatre who’s name escapes me at the moment. It pulled in huge numbers at the Detroit Fox.brucec

Senorsock on November 5, 2003 at 3:16 pm

Coming back home to shoot “Talk Soup in Chicago” at the Chicago Theatre was a terrific experience. I remember seeing “Beverly Hills Cop” there in the 1980’s when the theatre was kind of ratty and unkempt and the feeling was it was going to be torn down. Seeing it restored to its glory makes me feel anything really is possible.

MichaelPSmith on October 8, 2003 at 7:06 pm

The Chicago theatre was one of the most impressive of the grand movie palaces. Have visited in the ‘70s and recently.
It has only gotten better with age.
This theatre is truly a National Treasure.

Mike Smith

graememcbain on November 6, 2002 at 5:11 am

A book I have in my collection says the Chicago Theatre was the ultimate in French opulence with crystal and bronze chandeliers in the lobby,the auditorium walls were lined with boxes,and the interior color scheme was in tones of blue,red and gold.It also states the theatre was famous for its lavish Balaban and Katz stage productions and six stories of dressing rooms used to be located on either side of the colossal stage.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 27, 2001 at 6:06 pm

Now run by the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA). Web site:

John P Keating Jr
John P Keating Jr on December 2, 2001 at 10:14 am

When I was growing up the Chicago Theatre was famous for its stage shows plus a movie. For 90 cents you could go early in the morning and stay as long as you liked. The performers were usually booked for a week and did 5 shows a day and 6 on the weekend. Some of the stars I saw there were: Betty Grable, Martin and Lewis, Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason, Sarah Vaughn, Patti Page, Josephine Baker, and Vic Damone. TV and Las Vegas helped in the demise of the stage shows. The Chicago is still a gem and has many special shows and events booked.