The beaming vertical letters of "C-H-I-C-A-G-O" ascend six stories high on a sign that seems to be the establishing shot for any movie set in the Windy City. Tourists and natives often stand outside snapping pictures of the marvelous marquee, where the biggest names in music, theater, and comedy are writ large under a miniature replica of Paris' Arc de Triomphe. The Parisian aesthetic continues inside The Chicago Theatre’s grand lobby, which recalls the Royal Chapel at Versailles with its gallery promenades. The staircase ascending to the Grand Balcony resembles that of the Paris Opera House, rounding out a French Baroque architecture that would cause Louis XIV to do a spit-take. Inside the seven-story high 3,600-seat auditorium, terra-cotta tiles, crystal chandeliers, and luxurious drapes give audiences visual overtures before every show.
As vital to Chicago as hot dogs and mustard fire hoses, The Chicago Theatre was America's first munificent movie palace upon its 1921 unveiling, where it was declared "The Wonder Theatre of the World." Beyond its silver screenings, the theater became a beacon for live entertainment, as artists such as John Philip Sousa, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman filled its first 40 years with oompah and swing. After a multimillion dollar restoration in 1986, the landmark venue remains the heart of art in the city, attracting the world's most popular entertainers to its stage almost every evening of the year.