Coliseum, Chicago

Third Coliseum

Site of Third Coliseum

     In the history of Chicago, there were three buildings that bore the name Chicago Coliseum.

     The first was located at State and Washington Streets in the 1860’s.  This was in the downtown region.  History of the building is unclear as to its opening and closing.   It apparently hosted various events such as horse shows, boxing masses and circus acts.

     The second colosseum building was located on the south side of Chicago in the Woodlawn neighborhood.  Construction began  in 1895 on a 14 acre site of the Columbian Exposition.   However,on August 22nd, the incomplete structure collapsed and construction had to restart.  The building was 300 by 700 feet.  Building required 2.5 million pounds of steel, 3.2 million feet of lumber and and 3 million bricks.  It was completed in 1896.  Building was twice as large as Madison Square Garden. The facility had 7 acre of interior space.

  Buffalo Wild West Show was the first event at the facility in July, 1896.   It hosted the Democratic convention in October, 1896.  The facility was used in multiple college football games.  It hosted trade show, bicycle races, agricultural exhibitions.

     In December, 1897, the building was destroyed in a massive fire.

     At the site of the third Coliseum (1513 South Wabash Avenue), Charles Gunther originally  built a structure known as the Libby Prison War Museum( a collection of Civil War memorabilia) in 1889.  The interesting thing about this structure is that it was previously  a southern Civil War Prison in Richmond, Virginia.  Gunther arranged for it to be deconstructed, shipped by train to Chicago and reassembled.  After 10 years, Gunther tore the building down except for the castellated front wall.  This was incorporated into the new 3rd Coliseum Building in 1899.  The architects were Frost and Granger.   The capacity was 14,000.

     During its existence, the Coliseum sponsored, political conventions, sporting events, concerts, roller derbies, religious events, and bowling tournaments.

     On March 13, 1971, the city of Chicago closed the Coliseum because of fire code violations.  In 1982, the building was sold for redevelopment, which unfortunately never happened.  It was eventually demolished in the 1990’s.

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