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The Black Chicago Renaissance$
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Darlene Clark Hine and John McCluskey Jr.

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037023

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037023.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

The Problem of Race and Chicago’s Great Tivoli Theater

The Problem of Race and Chicago’s Great Tivoli Theater

(p.44) Chapter 3 The Problem of Race and Chicago’s Great Tivoli Theater
The Black Chicago Renaissance

Clovis E. Semmes

University of Illinois Press

This chapter historicizes the building of “the great palace theaters” of the early twentieth century, paying particular attention to real-life racial politics. Inspired by the architectural designs of the Chateau de Versailles, the Tivoli Theater was located in Washington Park with its 85 percent white population. The theater, originally built in 1921 for white neighborhood residents, employed a number of black men and women in service capacities. Due to gradual demographic shifts, Tivoli Theater management pursued a policy of separate seating for audiences for the live performances and film exhibitions. The chapter notes that the ornate theaters, including the Regal Theater, which was the black counterpart to the Tivoli Theater, sought to sell the feeling of being upper class while giving access to all classes.

Keywords:   racial politics, Tivoli Theater, Regal Theater, black employees, white population, demographic shifts, upper class, Chateau de Versailles

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