This photo isn’t so much about how the shot was taken or the quality of the photo (which, btw, is excellent). This photo is about a part of DC history that many people don’t know much about. And that is Uline Arena (AKA: Washington Coliseum). Even though it was called a “triumph of concrete” when it was constructed in 1939, it’s a pretty forgettable, if large, industrial building next to the tracks of Union Station. Though its appearance is forgettable, its history is amazing.
The Beatles performed their first U.S. concert here on February 11th 1964. Two important, and controversial, figures of the Civil Rights Movement spoke here: Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. Red Auerbach, of Boston Celtic legend, coached the Basketball Association of America’s Washington Capitols in the late 1940s, and the Arena was their home. It was also an important venue for the Go-Go music scene in the 80s. All this history under one roof!
As one can imagine, the building has seen better days. In 2003 it was put on the DC Preservation League’s list of “Most Endangered Places.” But it’s still standing strong, and has been in the art news lately for the creative Swampoodle production, which runs until this Saturday night. Hopefully, the Arena, and its history, will be around for many years to come.