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Riviera Theatre


4746 N. Racine Ave.




Sat, Oct 14: 10am - 2pm

Sun, Oct 15: 10am - 2pm

Long Lines Photography Permitted Washrooms Available


Rapp & Rapp, 1918

Interior & completion

Rapp & Rapp, 1918



The Riviera Theatre was the largest and most ornate of Uptown's movie theaters until the opening of the Uptown Theatre almost a decade later. Opened in 1918 at a cost exceeding half a million dollars, this house designed by Rapp & Rapp originally accommodated over 2,500 patrons. The Riviera ended up becoming the second major theater of the Balaban & Katz circuit, which at the time also included the Central Park Theatre. Architecturally, it exudes grace and aristocracy, channeling the taste and style of Louis XIV. Silk panels covered the walls, ribbed with snow woodwork; frescoes dot the ceilings; and curved lines guide the eye to the stage. 8,000 electric lamps are strewn throughout the interior, and yet not one is visible to the eye. Color effects spring from the roof and walls in shaded subtle effects. French windows from passageways give a view of the entire house.

Originally featuring movies accompanied by an orchestra, the Riviera also presented 'high-class' musical acts onstage. The theater primarily catered to the upper-middle class residents of the Uptown area, especially women. The Riviera remained one of the neighborhood’s most popular movie houses for decades. In 1975, it began its transformation into a well-known national concert venue when Jam Productions, Ltd. began promoting pop and rock concerts at the Riviera between a schedule of movie screenings.

Docent led tours of the venue will be available

Visitor Experience

Visitors will be offered a guided tour of the theatre including the auditorium, balcony, lobby and washrooms (excluding backstage).