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Vintage Chicago Theatre – Rainy Night in 1949


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I’ve said many times how much I love the vintage flair of the old movie palaces like the Chicago Theatre seen here. There’s just such a cool escapist style to those old theaters. They were experiences unto themselves! Going to the movies was half the entertainment it seems back in the day.

So what’s better than a view of the beautiful old Chicago Theatre Marquee? How about a vintage view of it as it looked back in 1949? When I stumbled over the black and white photo this artwork is based upon on the Library of Congress website, I was instantly taken by the scene of a wet night in the city. This glimpse at the golden years of the Chicago Theatre is courtesy of Look magazine which was published from 1937-1971. After it closed shop, most of their catalog of work was donated to the Library of Congress. If this Chicago scene is any indication, it must have been a beautiful glimpse of America in the middle of the last century.

Not only is the old Chicago Theatre sign in the pouring rain eye-catching, just look at those retro-cool vintage cars! I consulted period color charts to select not just the car colors but many other elements of this vintage scene. But in the end, I wanted a feel that was reminiscent of old color cartoons of the period. Just the sort of scenes that children might have once watched at a matinee on the screens at the old Chicago Theatre! With those mid-century cars, how could I resist going after that vibe? Don’t you half expect a super hero to appear on the scene at any moment?

I would love to hear what called to you when you saw this vintage Chicago Theatre print? Was it the retro color scheme? The vintage flair? Or is it simply that this print fulfills a yen you have for a little piece of Chicago history for your home?


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