The historic Chicago Theatre, which dates back to 1921, is a popular downtown architectural landmark. With its famous dazzling marquee, French baroque architecture, and lobby modeled on a Versailles chapel, this picturesque structure today hosts concerts and comedy shows, as well as daily tours of its spectacular interior.
The first of the great early-20th-century movie palaces, the Chicago Theatre was designed to be as lavish as Versailles. Its landmark marquee is backed by a miniature replica of the Arc de Triomphe, the 5-story lobby is modeled on Versailles’ Royal Chapel, and the grand staircase is based on the one at the Palais Garnier, the Paris’ stunning opera house.
The theater is a popular stop on city sightseeing tours, and you can admire its exterior on any number of hop-on hop-off bus tours. To explore the theater’s impressive interior, attend a performance or take one of the venue’s daily tours, included with the Chicago Explorer Pass and Go Chicago Card.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Chicago Theatre is a must-visit for history, theater, and architecture buffs.
- Check the performance calendar before you visit; many shows sell out far in advance.
- The venue offers a coat check for coats and bags, as well as backpacks, large bags, and strollers, which are not permitted inside the auditorium.
- Outside food and drinks are not allowed in the theater.
- The facility is fully accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Chicago Theatre is located on North State Street, in the Loop in downtown Chicago. It’s easily accessible by public transit, or on foot from local landmarks. By subway, take the Red Line to Lake or the Brown, Green, Pink, Orange, or Purple Line Express elevated line to Lake/State. If you’re driving, download the venue’s parking app to secure a spot in advance at a nearby garage.
When to Get There
The theater is open year-round, with a full calendar of concerts, comedy shows, and special events. If you’d like to explore the theater’s interior without attending a performance, book a 1-hour tour, offered at 12pm daily.
Other Chicago Architecture Landmarks
In the late 1800s, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed most of downtown, making way for different styles of architecture as new buildings went up. Architecture enthusiasts will swoon in Chicago and definitely want to seek out popular landmarks such as the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower, on the Magnificent Mile. Also, just across Michigan Avenue stands the Wrigley Building, with its giant clockface and two towers overlooking the Chicago River.