1921 The Chicago Theatre, built in 1921, was one of the first major cinema palaces built by movie moguls Balaban & Katz. Designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and Sodaro, it was modeled after the Opera House in Sydney, Australia. The Chicago Theatre was the first major Hollywood cinema to have air-conditioning installed at no charge to customers.
In addition to being a showcase theater, the Chicago was also a radio station from 1926 to 1930. The station returned as an independent television station in 1955 but went out of business two years later. In 1962, it became a music venue called the Scene Club before closing its doors for good in 1964.
The Chicago has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. It is now used for musical performances and film festivals.
Trivia: The Chicago was the last major Hollywood theatre to show silent films. The first film shown at the Chicago was Ben-Hur in 1925.
The Chicago Theatre was America's first enormous, extravagant cinema palace and the model for all others. This stunning cinema palace was designed by Cornelius and George Rapp and built for $4 million by theatre owners Barney and Abe Balaban and Sam and Morris Katz. It opened on February 22, 1929 with Charlie Chaplin's The Circus coming out of retirement to make his debut film since breaking his contract with Paramount Pictures in 1927. The film was a huge success and today is considered one of the greatest comedies of all time.
The Chicago Theatre was also known as the Balaban/Katz Theater after it was sold to an Italian-American partnership in 1935 by the Balaban family business which owned it at that time. The Italians named their new venture Cinémathèque Italiane and began showing Italian films in the theater which had previously been screening American movies.
In 1975, after many years of financial problems, the Cinémathèque Italiane closed its doors for the last time. The Chicago Theatre was then acquired by Hollywood movie producer Edward Selzer who planned to renovate and re-open it as a grand Hollywood cinema. However, due to high costs and low attendance, he was forced to close it again. It sat abandoned for several years before being purchased by a group of investors from Chicago who planned to convert it into a Broadway theater.
The movie palace Navigate to the next page. Go to the search for Chicago's Uptown Theatre A cinema palace (or picture palace in the United Kingdom) is any of the huge, ornately furnished movie theaters constructed between the 1910s and 1940s. The cinema palace was at its heyday in the late 1920s, with hundreds opening each year between 1925 and 1930.
The theater industry was changing during this time, with the advent of sound film starting in 1927. The large theaters were not equipped for sound, so many closed within a few years of their opening. The last true cinema palace in Chicago opened in 1929. It was demolished to make way for the Navigate to the next page. Go to the search for Chicago's Uptown Theatre shopping mall that now stands on the site.
Cinema palaces are sometimes called "dream houses" because of their extravagant design. They were often built by wealthy businessmen who wanted a place where their customers could go for entertainment after work or on weekends. The largest theaters showed feature films with up to eight reels back then; today they would show two-to-four-hour movies. There were usually one or more screens with a capacity of around 100 people, although some had as many as 5,000 seats.
Other popular themes for cinema palaces include opera houses, museums, and galleries. Some have been converted into other uses such as churches or restaurants.