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Winterland Ballroom

Coordinates: 37°47′06″N 122°26′06″W / 37.785036111111°N 122.43488888889°W / 37.785036111111; -122.43488888889
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Winterland Arena
The Band playing at the Winterland Arena on Thanksgiving Day, 1976.
Location2000 Post Street at Steiner Street, San Francisco, California
Coordinates37°47′06″N 122°26′06″W / 37.785036111111°N 122.43488888889°W / 37.785036111111; -122.43488888889
OwnerBill Graham (1971–1978)
Capacity5,400 (1971–1978)
OpenedJune 29th, 1928
Renovated1971 (Converted exclusively to music venue)
ClosedDecember 31st, 1978
Demolishedlate 1985[1]

Winterland Ballroom (more commonly known as Winterland Arena or simply Winterland) was an ice skating rink and music venue in San Francisco, California, United States. The arena was located at the corner of Post Street and Steiner Street. It was converted for exclusive use as a music venue in 1971 by concert promoter Bill Graham and became a popular performance location for many rock acts. Graham later formed a merchandising company called Winterland Productions, which sold concert shirts, memorabilia, and official sports team merchandise.



The venue was opened on June 29, 1928, as the New Dreamland Auditorium.[2] It served as an ice skating rink that could be converted into a seated entertainment venue. Sometime in the late 1930s the building's name was changed to Winterland, and it successfully operated through the Great Depression. It was built in 1928 for $1 million (equivalent to $17.7 million in 2023).[3] The New Dreamland was built on the site of the Dreamland Rink (midway on the west side of Steiner between Post and Sutter) and Sid Grauman's National Theatre (on the corner of Post and Steiner).[4]

In 1936, Winterland began hosting the Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies.[5] Impresario Clifford C. Fischer staged an authorized production of the Folies Bergère, the Folies Bergère of 1944, at the Winterland Ballroom in November 1944.[6] The Ballroom hosted opera, boxing and tennis matches.[7]

As a music venue


Starting on September 23, 1966, with a double bill of Jefferson Airplane and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Bill Graham began to occasionally rent the venue, which had an audience capacity of 5,400, for larger concerts that his nearby Fillmore Auditorium could not properly accommodate. After closing the Fillmore West in 1971, he began to hold regular weekend shows at Winterland.

Various popular rock acts played there, including such bands and musicians as Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, the J. Geils Band, the Who, Black Sabbath, James Gang, Mahogany Rush, Quicksilver Messenger Service, UFO, REO Speedwagon, Queen, Slade, Boston, Cream, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, Kiss, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Styx, Van Morrison, the Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead, the Band, Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin), Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Ten Years After, Rush, Electric Light Orchestra, David Bowie, Genesis, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Sons of Champlin, Sex Pistols, Traffic, Golden Earring, Grand Funk Railroad, Humble Pie, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Robin Trower, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Sha Na Na, Loggins and Messina, Lee Michaels, Heart, Journey, Deep Purple, J.J. Cale, Spirit, the Chambers Brothers, Alice Cooper, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Foghat, Mountain, B.B. King, Montrose, George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers and Elvis Costello. Led Zeppelin first performed their song "Whole Lotta Love" there.

The Tubes headlined New Year's Eve 1975 with Flo and Eddie.

Many of the best-known rock acts from the 1960s and 1970s played at Winterland or played two blocks away across Geary Boulevard at the original Fillmore Auditorium. Peter Frampton recorded parts of the fourth-best-selling live album ever, Frampton Comes Alive!, at Winterland. The Grateful Dead made Winterland their home base, and The Band played their last show there on Thanksgiving Day 1976. That concert, featuring numerous guest performers including Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and many others, was filmed by Martin Scorsese and released in theaters and as a soundtrack under the name The Last Waltz. Winterland also hosted the Sex Pistols' final show, on January 14, 1978.[8]

Final concerts


During Winterland's final month of existence, shows were booked nearly every night. Acts included The Tubes,[9] Ramones, Smokey Robinson, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and on December 15–16, 1978, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Springsteen's December 15 show was broadcast on local radio station KSAN-FM.

Winterland closed on New Year's Eve 1978 / New Year's Day 1979 with a concert by the Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and The Blues Brothers. The show lasted for over eight hours, with the Grateful Dead's performance—documented on DVD and CD as The Closing of Winterland—lasting nearly six hours, beginning at midnight with Bill Graham's favorite Dead tune, Sugar Magnolia. After the show, the crowd was treated to a hot, buffet-style champagne breakfast. The final show was simulcast live on radio station KSAN-FM and the local PBS TV station KQED.[10]

Winterland was eventually razed in 1985 and replaced by apartments.[11]

Live recordings at Winterland


A number of films and recordings were made in whole or in part at the Winterland Arena.[12]

Concert films


Live albums


Further reading



  1. ^ "Winterland Stories Photos #2". Thrasherswheat.org.
  2. ^ "2–0 Police Journal". MyHeritage. San Francisco, CA. November 1928. pp. 20–21, 88–89. Retrieved 2016-01-15. Compilation of Published Sources
  3. ^ Counter, Bill (2020-01-29). "Dreamland / Winterland". San Francisco Theatres.
  4. ^ Counter, Bill (2017-08-27). "The National Theatre". San Francisco Theatres.
  5. ^ Ganahl, Jane (24 August 1998). "Eddie Shipstad, Ice Follies man and philanthropist". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Follies Bergere in San Francisco, 1944". 1943-11-23. Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  7. ^ "Photo of Winterland with boxing ring". Skelton Studios. November 8, 1950. Archived from the original on August 8, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2019 – via San Francisco Public Library.
  8. ^ Fricke, David (November 2001). The Last Waltz (liner notes). Warner Bros. pp. 25–27. Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  9. ^ "Concert Vault". Concert Vault.
  10. ^ Selvin, Joel (October 23, 2003). "It was 1978, the night they closed old Winterland down — and the Grateful Dead's all-night show lives on in memories, flashbacks — and now a DVD". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  11. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (January 25, 2018). "Rare photos of the demolition of Winterland Ballroom". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  12. ^ Prior, Ginny (18 November 2010). "Collection tells story of legendary local rink". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 21 February 2019.