Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium (Oakland Auditorium), 10th Street and Pallon, Oakland, CA


Built in 1913, it was originally known as the Oakland Civic Auditorium, costing one million dollars to build. A 5,492-seat multi-purpose arena designed by J.J. Donovan, the Oakland Civic Auditorium opens on the south shore of Lake Merritt.
The auditorium is described as "a California Million Dollar Amusement and Recreation Palace in Oakland, California. The center, includes a large theater, a large ballroom and arena space."After years of earnest efforts together with two bond elections and a great deal of strenuous publicity, the Oakland municipal auditorium is virtually completed and will become a live asset to this enterprising California city," the Oakland Tribune wrote April 3, 1915.
"Its utilities provide an arena with a flat floor surface of 117 by 212 feet, the seating capacity of this main floor for conventions being 4,000 persons. Surrounding the arena is a beautiful balcony with a seating capacity of 3,725 persons. Fifty-four boxes of twelve seats each give 648 seats. This is a total capacity for the arena of 8,373. In addition to these splendid facilities the stage 30 by 50 will seat 600 to 700 more persons. No convention held in the United States, and especially on the Pacific Coast could fail to be accommodated in the Oakland auditorium."
Besides the big arena, the auditorium also featured a theater that took up a third of the building and several smaller halls.


"Probably no building in America is better fitted out with conveniences such as permanent public telephone rooms, telegraph stations, checking facilities, rest rooms for women, elaborately fitted up smoking rooms for men ... parking station for automobiles and exits of a nature that provide for emptying the building of 9,000 persons in four minutes."
The hardwood maple floor was "wonderful" for dancing purposes, according to the Tribune story, and the arena had an "unequaled system of overhead lighting together with a glass-covered roof garden for promenades. The auditorium is well-fitted for balls, and has already booked fifteen or twenty."
The dedication ceremonies started April 30, a Friday, and went through Sunday. A grand ball, a pageant, a concert, drill teams, a bagpipe band and child musicians from Oakland schools all were featured.
The Friday ball was called the "Dance of a Thousand Colors." At 9 p.m., a trumpet sounded, and the grand march began, led by Mayor Frank K. Mott and his wife in a "light green chiffon creation."
"The white lights softened and in an instant the eight great electric scintillators, located on each side of the immense hall shot a prismatic riot of color over the auditorium. ... Gasps of amazement went up and then the spectators cheered for the effect was as magnificent as it was surprising," the Tribune reported May 1.(1)



In the 1950's and 1960's the Roller Derby played there hundreds of times. It was home to the Oakland Skates roller hockey team.

In June 3, 1956 Elvis played one of his first ever West Coast gigs here and many other famous and local musicians have dropped in over the past 90 or so years.

Until the 1960s, the Oakland Auditorium was the only major venue in Oakland open to African Americans and mixed audiences.   
1967

Stokley Carmichael gave a speech at the Oakland Auditorium February 17, 1968. The occasion was a benefit birthday party for Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Newton was awaiting trial on charges of killing a white Oakland policeman.

In 1984, following a $15 million refurbishment to reflect its historic and fabled past, the Oakland Auditorium was reborn as the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center.

Henry John Kaiser (May 9, 1882—August 24, 1967) was an American industrialist who became known as the father of modern American shipbuilding.
Henry J. Kaiser in his shipyard


Strictly speaking, the Oakland Auditorium was a smaller, seated venue in the same complex, rarely used for rock shows, while the Arena had been used for trade shows, sports events and even a rodeo (Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, in the early 20th century) as well as major rock events. Nonetheless, by the 1980s just about everybody in the Bay Area called the Arena the "Oakland Auditorium."

The building has been closed since 2005. The venue has been sitting empty for over a half decade.... occupy activists attempted to take over the building last year and were forced away by cops with tear gas.





Jerry performed here
When it was called Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center
10/31/86 JGB
1/23/88 Weir+Santana
10/31/88 JGB
11/24/90 JGB
2/7/92 JGB
11/11/94 JGB



...and with The Grateful Dead
when it was called Oakland Auditorium
8/4/79
8/5/79
12/26/79
12/27/79
12/28/79
12/30/79
12/31/79
12/26/80
12/27/80
12/28/80
12/30/80
12/31/80
12/26/81
12/27/81
12/28/81
12/30/81
12/31/81
12/26/82
12/27/82
12/28/82
12/30/82
12/31/82
when it was called Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center
2/18/85
2/19/85
2/20/85
9/10/85
9/11/85
9/12/85
11/20/85
11/21/85
11/22/85
2/8/86
2/9/86
2/11/86
2/12/86
2/14/86
12/27/86
12/28/86
12/30/86
12/31/86
3/1/87
3/2/87
11/6/87
11/7/87
11/8/87

when it was called Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium 
2/13/88
2/14/88
2/16/88
2/17/88
3/16/88
3/17/88
3/18/88

when it was called Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center
2/5/89
2/6/89
2/7/89

Locations are based on deadlists.com


1) rego, nilda, sjmercurynews,2011-10-02,daysgoneby

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