Haymarket Theatre

722-24 W. Madison Street,
Chicago, IL 60661

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The Haymarket Theatre opened in 1887 as a legitimate playhouse with seating for 2,475 on the orchestra floor, boxes, and three balconies. The Haymarket stood on Madison Street near Halsted Street on the near West Side. By 1896, the Haymarket had become a vaudeville house (though vaudeville acts periodically appeared at the Haymarket from its earliest years in addition to live theater).

From 1916 until 1932, the theater was one of Chicago’s best-known burlesque houses (along with the Rialto in the South Loop). In 1916, with the closure of the third balcony, seating was reduced to 2200. (The owners closed the balcony because they claimed the girls doing their acts on stage couldn’t be seen from that distance). From 1932 until late 1948, the theater was a second-run movie house. By 1945, according to the Film Daily Yearbook, seating was further reduced to 998.

The Haymarket Theatre closed in 1949, and was condemned, as it was in the way of construction of what is today the Kennedy Expressway (I-90). In spring of 1950, the once grandiose theater was razed.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

LiermanD
LiermanD on October 22, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Hello:
My great Aunt use to dance at the Haymarket Theatre in the 1800’s Her stage name was Trix. I am trying to find a picture of the theatre. I thank the gentleman who posted the drawing. If anyone has any other information I would appreciate it, as I am doing a mid-term on this.
Thanks
LiermanD

Englewood
Englewood on January 24, 2009 at 10:29 am

This news short from the Englewood Economist, Tues., January 11, 1910 about the Haymarket Theatre and Chicago Cub Joe Tinker, of Tinkers-to-Evans-to-Chance fame.

“Home run Joe Tinker is billed to get the glad hand from all the Cub rooters on the West Side when he appears among the crowned heads of the vaudeville world this week at the Haymarket. The dandy shortstopper is to make his debut before the spotlight in a 22-minute sketch labeled ‘The Great Catch.’ Two hundred rooters secured ringside seats for the opening performance.

“The scene in which Joe is assisted by Sadie Sherman is laid in front of a flat overlooking the Cubs' ball park. The game goes on as Miss Sherman (has) her eyes and attention glued to the window. Finally, Joe bursts upon the scene, running up to the roof of the flat to make ‘the great catch.’ ”

(Joe Tinker died in 1948, the same year as the Haymarket Theatre, and is buried in Orlando, Florida.)

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on January 24, 2009 at 12:54 pm

The Kennedy Expressway was originally called the Northwest Expressway, when it opened in November of 1960. It was renamed the Kennedy 7 days after the assassination of JFK.

The Haymarket Theatre would have been just East of where the SkyBridge Condominium tower is now located. A Dominicks food store is the 1st floor tenant. Construction of SkyBridge began in 1999. A newly built Manufacturers Bank and local TV channel 26 the “U” are located across the street on the N/W corner of Madison & Halsted. Manufacturer’s Bank was previously on the S/W corner.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 13, 2010 at 11:37 pm

The 1914 obituary of noted Chicago architect John J. Flanders attributes the design of the Haymarket Theatre to him.

JoyceShumate1
JoyceShumate1 on October 16, 2010 at 5:45 pm

I have several old photos taken at the Haymarket Theatre by Morrison. I assume they are old Vaudeville actors. Could you direct me to someone who could help me identify them? Thank you for your help.

JoyceShumate1
JoyceShumate1 on October 16, 2010 at 5:45 pm

I have several old photos taken at the Haymarket Theatre by Morrison. I assume they are old Vaudeville actors. Could you direct me to someone who could help me identify them? Thank you for your help.

KayJohnson
KayJohnson on November 19, 2010 at 6:07 am

I want to thank everyone for the additional information on this particular theatre. I, too, am looking for a good photograph of the theatre. I’d also like to thank the person who added the information about the 1908 change of addressing systems. That explains so much! In addition to looking for a good photograph of the Haymarket Theatre, I am also looking for photographs of the West Madison 100 block — specifically, Goldberg’s Saloon, located at 108 West Madison. If I lived in Chicago, my search might be easier. Maybe, someone can point me in the right direction. I also thank the person who supplied the drawing of the theatre.

Kay Johnson

Englewood
Englewood on January 17, 2011 at 11:57 am

According to the Feb. 15, 1908 Chicago Examiner, among the 14 acts featured that week was “Great Houdini,” listed first on the bill.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 29, 2012 at 8:01 am

The Haymarket Theatre is listed under Chicago in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. It was managed by Kohl & Castle. Tickets ranged from 5 cents to 30 cents. The seating: Orchestra 718, Balcony 506, Family Circle 472, Gallery 500; total: 2,196 seats. The house was on the ground floor and had both gas and electric illumination. The proscenium opening was 38 feet wide X 33 feet high, and the stage was 50 feet deep.

pb
pb on July 7, 2012 at 8:53 am

I have a photo that has not identity to it it is a woman in profile. The picture is a cabinet pictue with Morrison as photographer and Haymarket Theatre 161 West Madison St Chicago. Wondering if I can somehow post picture and see if anyone knows who this might be.

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