The Chicago Cultural Center is a People's Palace, both the building and the events which take place here put it at the top of Chicago's "best attractions" lists. Constructed over 100 years ago and opened in 1897 as a public library and Civil War memorial the incredible edifice has many architectural highlights. It was in 1991 that the historic landmark became the Chicago Cultural Center. Perhaps the most stunning, and most famous of the buildings features are the twin stained glass domes. These are the largest Tiffany-stained glass domes in the world. The building takes up a whole downtown city block from Washington to Randolph Street and from Michigan Ave to Garland Court. As you enter the Washington Street lobby you'll see white Italian Carrara marble and Mother of Pearl mosaics with gold leaf and precious stones. The architectural style is distinctly Classic Revival and inspired by the structures of ancient civilizations. In the Preston Bradley Hall there are glass mosaics and this is where you can see the iconic stained glass domes which are 38 foot in diameter and have about 30,000 glass pieces. To really appreciate the architecture of the building which is on the National Register of Historic Places take the 45 minutes tour offered at 1:15pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (for free).
What makes this site truly remarkable is that all the incredible exhibits, concerts, dance recitals, theatrical performances and lectures here are absolutely free to the general public! Art and culture thrive and are nurtured here and the packed public program schedule is diverse and always changing. There are always art exhibitions in the four galleries and on the corridor walls. The critically acclaimed music series is presented in a number of spaces including the Preston Bradley Hall where there are lunch time concerts and classical performances on various days. At the Chicago Cultural Center you can also catch film screenings, and theatre and dance performances as well as Chicago related lectures. The center provides workshops for families and kids to get creative. The 700 or so events, performances and workshops are so diverse and ever changing that you should check out their website to plan your visit. Within the building you can find a Visitor Information Center at 77 E Randolph Street or take the main entrance at 78 E. Washington Street. As I mentioned the center is FREE and open Monday to Thursday from 9am to 7pm, until 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays and on Sundays opens at 10am.