The Loop

Chicago Theater, ca. 1930

Chicago Theater, ca. 1930

Chicago’s principal retail and entertainment district during the early twentieth century was The Loop, so called because of the horse-drawn cable-car routes that once used the district’s streets to loop back toward their points of origin. During the 1910s and 1920s, The Loop boomed. Department stores expanded, movie palaces opened, and night life thrived. From early in the morning until late into the evening, traffic jammed the district’s streets and pedestrians crowded its sidewalks. The intersection of State and Madison Streets came to be known by many as “the world’s busiest corner.” The Depression of the early 1930s, however, hit the Loop hard as fewer out-of-town families and businessmen visited the city and cash-strapped Chicagoans reduced their spending and spent fewer nights out on the town. The Century of Progress World’s Fair of 1933 and 1934 helped temporarily revive Loop leisure activities, but it was not until the Second World War, when military personnel and war workers crowded the district’s streets night and day, that the good times returned in earnest.

Department Stores




Dance Halls and Cabarets




Other Information