Chicago Symphony Center

Symphony Center is a music complex located at 220 South Michigan Avenue in the "Loop" area of Chicago, Illinois. Home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Sinfonietta, Symphony Center includes the 2,522-seat Orchestra Hall, which dates from 1904; Buntrock Hall, a rehearsal and performance space; a public multi-story rotunda; Rhapsody restaurant; and administrative offices. In June 1993, plans to significantly renovate and expand Orchestra Hall were approved and the $110 million project resulting in Symphony Center being completed from 1995 to 1997. Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center was designated a National Historic Landmark on April 19, 1994. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.


Built in 1904, Orchestra Hall was designed by renowned Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. The new hall was specifically designed as a home for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which had previously performed in the larger Auditorium Theater. Construction began on May 1, 1904 and the first concert was held on December 14, 1904. The building has "Theodore Thomas Orchestra Hall" inscribed in its façade, after the orchestra's first music director who died less than a month after his conducting debut there. The names Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Wagner are inscribed above the ballroom windows on the façade.

Orchestra Hall was also used as a movie theater during the 1910s, to maintain income during the summer months, when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was playing at the Ravinia Festival. Lectures and other programs were held at Orchestra Hall in the 1920s and 1930s, with speakers including Harry Houdini, Richard E. Byrd, Amelia Earhart, Bertrand Russell and Orson Welles.


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