The large marquee of the Biograph Theater in the northerly Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park announces a regular slate of upcoming live performances. The building is a popular cultural destination for Chicagoans and features a 299-seat theater, a 130-seat studio theater, rehearsal hall and space for special events, but the building has enjoyed a long and storied history. First opened in 1914 with 942 seats, the Biograph Theater was one of the country’s earliest movie houses. It now hosts the Victory Gardens Theater.
During the Great Depression, the theater advertised a rare summer perk: air conditioning. Perhaps this is what drew notorious gangster, bank robber, and alleged murder, John Dillinger, to a screening of “Manhattan Melodrama” in July, 1934. Leaving the screening, Dillinger was killed in the adjacent alleyway by waiting FBI agents. As the site of Dillinger’s death, the Biograph Theater has also become a popular for ghost hunting tours.
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