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"Civic Opera Building" Top 5 Page for this destination Chicago Favorite Tip by deecat

Chicago General: 445 reviews and 517 photos

  Civic Opera Building, Chicago
by deecat

Favorite thing: Built in 1927-1929, the Civic Opera Building was financed ($20 Million) by Samuel Insull (utilities magnate of Commonwealth Edison) and other opera subscribers. They thought that the office rents would support the cost of the opera operations. But, this was poor timing on their part because of the stock market crash; thus, Insull and the opera went bankrupt!

This building takes up the entire block to Washington Street on the site of the old Market Square Warehouse. This 45-story structure is shaped like a throne and is a combination of an office building, a 3,500-seat opera house, and a 900-seat Civic Theatre.

There's a covered pedestrian arcade that extends along the entire front. The opera entrance is to the south end. The theatre entrance is to the north end.

The style is a mixture of French Renaissance and Art Deco.

Sadly, this building does not take advantage of its River location. Its western facade (faces River) has limestone cladding and setbacks.

As my photo (taken from River tour boat) shows, the whole back is a solid block of concrete, blocking any river view.

Fondest memory: The Chicago Lyric Opera makes its home here and has since the 1950s.

The Opera portion of the building is only open before and during performances. So, try to see the magnificent 40-ft-high Grand Foyer before the Opera. Better yet, purchase tickets and go to the Opera!

20 North Wacker Drive

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 25, 2005
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“Yesterday is a cancelled check; tomorrow, a promissory note; today is the only cash you have; spend it wisely. Kay Lyons”

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