50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive,
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Auditorium Theatre (Official)
Architects: Dankmar Adler, Louis Henri Sullivan
Firms: Adler and Sullivan
Functions: Concerts, Dance, Live Performances
Styles: Romanesque Revival
Taking up an entire block in downtown Chicago’s Loop, the 4,237-seat Auditorium Theatre opened December 9, 1889 as the home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The original address was 58 E. Congress Parkway. Unlike many major cities, Chicago did not have a purpose-built large downtown theatre dedicated primarily to photoplays until the late-teens. There were a few efforts such as the Strand Theatre and Orpheum Theatre, but these were relatively small. Major films were instead booked in legitimate and vaudeville theatres like Orchestra Hall, the Majestic Theatre, the Studebaker Theatre, and the Colonial Theatre. Despite its enormous seating capacity, the Auditorium Theatre was occasionally used for presentations of movies.
During World War II the Auditorium Theatre became a bowling alley when it became a USO Center. It was restored and reopened on October 31, 1967. A feature of the building is that the entire proscenium can be raised to create an amphitheatre.
The Auditorium Theatre was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.
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