The Chicago Auto Show is held annually in February at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention complex. It is the largest auto show in North America. Samuel Miles produced the first “official” Chicago Automobile Show in 1901. The event was staged in March of that year at the third Chicago Coliseum located at 1513 S. Wabash Avenue. The 1901 show featured an indoor track for attendees to test drive the ten vehicles exhibited. Five electric powered, three steam powered, and two with gasoline engines.
The 1902 show saw 100 cars on display the indoor track was discontinued after the first year to accommodate space requirements for the exhibitors. By the late 1920s, the automotive industry’s maturation resulted in many smaller automobile manufacturers being acquiredor replaced by larger ones. The Chicago Auto Show continued to gain prominence during this era and was often regarded as the “National Auto Show”. Samuel Miles retired as the Chicago Auto Show’s general manager in 1931 after three decades of service.
1935 was characterized by three major changes to the Chicago Auto Show The Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA). The United States’ oldest and largest metropolitan automobile dealership organization, became the event’s producer and organizer. Also, the show was held twice in calendar year 1935. Once in January for the 1935 models, and once in November for the 1936 models. This arrangement was a result of automakers shifting the start of the model year to the fall. It is based on a recommendation by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to advance the introduction of new automobile models by two months.
Finally, the November 1935 show moved to a much larger venue, the International Amphitheatre located at 4220 South Halsted Street. World War Two curtailed production of motor vehicles for consumers in the United States, with the domestic automotive industry retooling to manufacture defense and military equipment. As a result, the Chicago Auto Show was not held between 1941 and 1949. In 1961, the Chicago Auto Show moved from the International Amphitheatre to the original McCormick Place.
The latter facility was destroyed by fire just a month prior to the 1967 show. So the International Amphitheatre resumed its role as the Chicago Auto Show’s venue between 1967 and 1970. The show returned to McCormick Place in 1971, when a replacement building was constructed at the site. Additional expansions to McCormick Place toward the end of the 20th century allowed the Chicago Auto Show to become the largest auto show in the United States. The event currently encompasses more than 1 million square feet in the North and South exhibit halls of McCormick Place.
Due to the vast amount of space available, several auto manufacturers have implemented creative uses of their exhibit area in recent years. For example, FCA US, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz have all configured indoor test track experiences adjacent to their respective vehicle displays. The 2015 Chicago Auto Show was held from February 14 through February 22 and had a 7 percent increase in attendance compared to 2014. The show’s media preview day hosted 18 world premieres including the introduction of the Kia Trail’ster concept as well as production vehicles such as the Acura RDX, Chevrolet Equinox, Honda Pilot and Toyota Avalon.
The 2019 Chicago Auto Show will be held from February 9 through February 18. With press preview starting on February 7 and the “First Look For Charity” Gala taking place on February 8. Acura will host a panel discussion to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Acura NS-X concept debut at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show.