The Washington Coliseum – Where the Beatles Performed Their First Concert in the USA

Outside the Washington Coliseum, where the Beatles performed their first US concert in 1964.

Outside the Washington Coliseum, where the Beatles performed their first US concert in 1964.

1132, 1140, and 1146 3rd St. NE, Washington DC.

Less than 48 hours after their appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, the Beatles played their first concert in the United States at the Washington Coliseum on February 11, 1964. Tickets ranged from $2 to $4. The Washington DC area had received up to eight inches of snow that day but that didn’t stop the 8,092 fans who filled the arena. The Beatles played approximately 40 minutes with the stage set up in the center of the arena “in the round,” in order to fill the venue up to maximum capacity.   Because of this awkward setup, the band would rotate their gear, including Ringo’s drums, every couple songs to face a new set of fans.

While in DC, the band stayed at the Shoreham Hotel, where they booked the entire seventh floor.

The set list consisted of:

  1. Roll Over Beethoven
  2. From Me To You
  3. I Saw Her Standing There
  4. This Boy
  5. All My Loving
  6. I Wanna Be Your Man
  7. Please Please Me
  8. Till There Was You
  9. She Loves You
  10. I Want To Hold Your Hand
  11. Twist And Shout
  12. Long Tall Sally

After the show, the Beatles attended a reception at the British Embassy, however they left in disgust after a guest cut off a lock of Ringo’s hair.

The Coliseum also hosted boxing, Washington Caps basketball, ice hockey and numerous other events, however the arena would fall into disrepair after the opening of the Capital Center in 1973.

The photograph of Bob Dylan on the cover of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits was taken at a concert at Washington Coliseum on November 28, 1965 by photographer Rowland Scherman.  The cover won the 1967 Grammy award for “Best Album Cover, Photography”

According to Wikipedia:

The building still stands today in the NoMa neighborhood near Union Station, what was formerly known as Swampoodle. It was used as a trash transfer station by Waste Management, the company that handles trash disposal for the District of Columbia, from 1994 to 2003. Waste Management Inc. applied for a demolition permit on May 9, 2003. The D.C. Preservation League listed the building in its “Most Endangered Places for 2003”. In order to protect it from efforts to raze the building, it was added to the official protection list of the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board in November 2006. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, on May 17, 2007.

It is a popular spot for graffiti. It is now used as an indoor parking lot. The coliseum is currently owned by Doug Jemal.

In 2015, Outdoor retailer REI has announced that they will be developing the property into their fifth flagship store. In addition to the 51,000 sq. ft. REI store, the fully redeveloped site will also house 146,200 sq. ft. of office space and an additional 17,000 sq. ft. of retail for other users.

 

Inside the Washington Coliseum today.

Inside the Washington Coliseum today.

 

Washington Coliseum marquee

1964: Fans outside the Coliseum, waiting for the Beatles to arrive.

 

The outside of the former entrance to the Washington Coliseum today.

The outside of the former entrance to the Washington Coliseum today.

 

 

The Beatles playing in the snow outside the Washington Coliseum.

The Beatles playing in the snow outside the Washington Coliseum.

 

Banner on the side of the Coliseum commemorating the Beatles appearance in 1964.

Banner on the side of the Coliseum commemorating the Beatles appearance in 1964.

 

The Shoreham Hotel where the Beatles occupied the entire 7th floor.

The Shoreham Hotel where the Beatles occupied the entire 7th floor.

 

The album cover for Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, photographed at the Washington Coliseum.

The album cover for Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, photographed at the Washington Coliseum.