State-Lake Theater

190 N. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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State-Lake Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in 1919 as a vaudeville house for the Orpheum circuit, the State-Lake Theater opened on March 17, 1919 with Trixie Friganza topping the bill. It later became the major venue for the RKO theater chain in Chicago (along with the Palace Theatre on Randolph Street). The theater is named for its location on the corner of State Street and Lake Street, across the street from the State and Lake “El” Station.

It was built a couple years before the Chicago Theatre, which sits just across the street from the State-Lake Theater, by the same architects, Rapp & Rapp, who designed it in a similar style as the French Renaissance style Chicago, though the State-Lake Theater was nowhere near as grandiose as its cousin across the street. The theater became part of the Balaban & Katz chain in 1938, which continued a policy of live acts and movies until 1941, when the State-Lake Theater switched to movies-only.

After closing in 1985, the State-Lake Theater’s interior was gutted and converted into studios and offices for the ABC network’s Chicago affiliate, WLS-TV.

The exterior was restored to it’s 1920s appearance (except for its marquee and ticket booth) and is still quite an impressive bookend to the Chicago Theatre across State Street.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 149 comments)

Broan on April 23, 2013 at 7:37 am

It opened exclusively at the State-Lake through June 26, then went wide the next week.

TechnicolourYawn on April 23, 2013 at 8:19 am

Thank you Broan, much appreciated.

gordonio on August 26, 2013 at 10:15 am

Jeez, Louise! I SAW Cleopatra at the State-Late Theater! (We teenagers called it the “State and Lake”)

DavidZornig on March 23, 2015 at 7:40 am

This link has photos of a dual premiere at both the Chicago and State-Lake Theatres in 1940. Copy & paste to view.

DavidZornig on August 4, 2015 at 1:19 pm

February 11th-15th, 1982 photo added, courtesy of the John Chuckman Collection. Mayor Byrne’s “Loop Alive”.

bbollinger on September 16, 2015 at 11:00 pm

Saw the bubble 3d in late 60s

DavidZornig on October 7, 2015 at 11:57 am

06/12/64-07/02/64 photo added courtesy of the AmeriCar The Beautiful Facebook page.

DavidZornig on November 10, 2015 at 4:52 pm

December 1954 photo added, photo and caption credit Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection.

Hachidan8 on April 7, 2017 at 8:12 pm

Dec.26th 1973. A friday. Blowing snow. Cold. I stood with my Mom in a long long line stretched around Lake st. The line inched. I could see the movie title, “The Exorcist”. Inched again. Twirling red lights.Christmas lights? No. Ambulance. Then another one. Fire? No. Sick people coming out crying and throwing up. People were cheering. Some kissing crosses on a necklace. I looked at my mom. I was not ready to see this film. All happened here from 73 to late 75…The Exorcist.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on April 7, 2017 at 8:24 pm

THE EXORCIST didn’t open at the State-Lake on December 26, 1973. It started showing at the State-Lake in February, 1974. The big 1973 Christmas attraction at the State-Lake was PAPILLON.

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