San Francisco Points of Interest

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in the Civic Center 10 July 2012
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
AKA Exposition Auditorium
99 Grove Street
Built 1915

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, built for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, was originally named Exposition Auditorium. In was renamed in 1992 after the death of the prominent music promoter, Bill Graham, who began the rock ‘n roll movement in San Francisco in the 1960s. Along with the Palace of Fine Arts and the St. Vincent de Paul Church, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is one of the few surviving structures associated with the exposition.

The building was designed by San Francisco architects John Galen Howard, Frederick H. Meyer and John Reid, Jr. Howard also chaired the advisory board that selected the master plan and architects for the Civic Center.

Exposition Auditorium faces Civic Center Plaza on the site of the Old City Hall building which crumbled in the first sixty seconds of the 1906 earthquake. Its four stories are erected on a steel frame clad in gray granite on the main facade and brick on the sides and rear. The design is Beaux Arts with elements of both the French and Italian Renaissance.

Exposition Auditorium was dedicated on January 5, 1915, in time for the Exposition. The Powerhouse and Plaza were also finished when the Exposition opened. The new City Hall, on the other hand, was not ready until early 1916, after the Exposition had closed.

The United Nations was founded in San Francisco in 1945 by heads of state and delegates from fifty countries. Concerts and gatherings were held in the auditorium, including the welcoming ceremony.

The Democratic National Convention nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt for President here in 1920. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the NAACP in 1956. The home court of the Golden State Warriors was here from 1964 to 1966.

Musicians who have performed here include The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Who, Janis Joplin, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, Elton John, Bette Midler, Lady Gaga, Janet Jackson, Phish, and Bruno Mars.

The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium contributes to the San Francisco Civic Center Historic District at both the national and local levels.

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