Sunday, August 12, 2012

D.C.'s Uline Arena: Where the Beatles Played Their First U.S. Concert

There is a run-down parking garage in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Commuters park their cars in the morning and leave in the evening without pausing to take a look around. People walk by without a glance. Train passengers look out the window and think nothing of it. But how many of these people know the magical history of this special place?

Before it was a parking garage, the Uline Arena was constructed in 1939 by Miguel L. "Uncle Mike" Uline for his professional ice hockey team Washington Lions. It was built along the tracks leading to Union Station in an area now known as NoMa (North of Massachusetts). The indoor arena opened in 1941 as the home arena of the Lions and hosted other events. Uline was also the home arena of the Red Auerbach-coached Washington Capitols of the Basketball Association of America.

But it wasn't until jewelry wholesaler Harry G. Lynn bought the arena in 1959 for $1 million, renamed it the Washington Coliseum, and made it a place for concerts that the place became world famous. That's because the Beatles performed their first U.S. concert there on February 11, 1964. So the Washington Coliseum/Uline Arena/parking garage will always be remembered as the first American venue chosen by the most popular and acclaimed rock band the world has ever known.

Click here for an excellent website with a pictorial history of Uline Arena with pictures and videos from the Beatles' concert and photos of sports memorabilia including programs for the Lions, Capitols and the hockey team that would later play there in the 1950s called the Presidents, and the later basketball team called the Caps.

Perhaps one day the building will be restored to its former glory as the neighborhood surrounding it is currently rapidly being developed. It would be great to see the history of the place honored and preserved while moving forward with a 21st century renovation.

Here are more photos of what the Uline Arena looks like today.

1 comment:

  1. I asked to step inside and look around ...the car parker gave me permission ...and I found my way up into the seating parquette area above the was a treacherous walk and I could've fallen and broke something or worse for I literally had to jump over areas which had no safe path but to hang on to a railing for aid...I don't reccomend it ...but it can be done...there is no lighting to try to see what the concourse looks like see where any concessins stood...or to even try to see where the Beatles had used for their dressing rooms...but it is awesome to fathom that this is where the great beatles gigged for a paying 8,000 people...the building itself from the outside looks amazing...but getting into the seating truely is seedy and very much need of's possible...if maybe most beatle fans would donate a fiver to the project...that would indeed help the main contributer...give it a thought...but at least get your ass in there and enjoy a look around...politely of course...and maybe bribe the car parker a warm coffee or soda and chips as I did for letting me in and stand in awe of the place the beatles gave us a great glimpse of themselves in the round for a rock show...and it's preserved on film...good luck and enjoy...rob.