Timeline Capsule
Time Capsule Details | BeingBlackToday.com
Chicago Illinois

The "Black Metropolis" and the Regal Theater of
South Side Chicago Illinois
The "Black Metropolis" is Born

In the early 1900s, the Bronzeville neighborhood -- of the Douglas community, on the South Side Chicago Illinois--- was known as the “Black Metropolis”, after developing into one of the most significant areas of African American.

Within the first three decades of the 1900s, after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, thousands of African Americans, escaping from the oppression of the South, emigrated to major cities like New York City, Detroit, and Chicago.  In the midst of these waves of migration, the Bronzeville neighborhood in the South Side became home to many African Americans, including many well-noted and highly esteemed black Americans of the time.

The  $1.5 Million Regal Theater
Opens in South Side Chicago
In 1928, it also became home to the Regal Theater, built in the heart of Bronzeville. The $1.5 million structure opened new doors for African Americans in the entertainment business, and hired black managers, ushers, dancers (light-skinned only), and coat checkers, which at the time was unheard of.

It was lavishly and elegantly decorated with large pillars, plush carpeting, velvet drapes, and plush seating for  3,000, making it the first large-scale theater hall built specifically for the African American community.  It created a new nightlife and perfect atmosphere for African American families to go out and have a good time in the city, as  not only music performers, but motion pictures and stage plays were featured there.

Some of the most celebrated Black entertainers in America performed there frequently, including Nat "King" Cole, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Lena Horne, Dinah Washington,Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, The Jackson 5, and Gladys Knight & The Pips.  In addition, several artists recorded live performances there, including B.B. King and Motown artists Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, Smokey Robinson.

1968: The Regal Theater Closes its Doors
Eventually, with developments in technology, business began to decline.  Another factor that affected the Regals high unemployment and suffering during the long lasting Great Depression of 1929 to 1939.  Losing more and more business, the owner was eventually forced to file bankruptcy and close down the theater in 1968.  The building was later demolished in 1973.