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Winterland Ballroom

Coordinates: 37°47′6.13″N 122°26′5.6″W / 37.7850361°N 122.434889°W / 37.7850361; -122.434889

Winterland Ballroom
The Last Waltz.jpg
The Band playing at the Winterland Ballroom on Thanksgiving Day, 1976.
Location2000 Post Street at Steiner Street, San Francisco, California
Coordinates37.785727, −122.435046
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 (often referred to as Winterland Arena or simply Winterland) was an ice skating rink and music venue in San Francisco, California. Located at the corner of Post Street and Steiner Street, it was converted to exclusive use as a music venue in 1971 by concert promoter Bill Graham and became a common performance site for many famous rock artists. Graham later formed a merchandising company called Winterland which sold concert shirts, memorabilia, and official sports team merchandise.


Winterland was built in 1928 for $1 million (equivalent to $14.6 million in 2018) and successfully operated through the Great Depression. Opened on June 29, 1928, it was originally known as the New Dreamland Auditorium.[2] Sometime in the late 1930s the building's name was changed to Winterland. It served as an ice skating rink that could be converted into a seated entertainment venue. In 1936, Winterland began hosting the Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17] Impresario Clifford C. Fischer staged an authorized production of the Folies Bergère, the Folies Bergère of 1944, at the Winterland Ballroom in November 1944.[18][19][20][21] It was also host to opera, boxing[22] and tennis matches.

As a music venueEdit

Starting on September 23, 1966, with a double bill of Jefferson Airplane and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Bill Graham began to rent the venue occasionally 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, 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, Genesis, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Traffic, Golden Earring, Grand Funk Railroad, Humble Pie, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Robin Trower, Sex Pistols, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Sha Na Na, Loggins and Messina, Lee Michaels, Heart, Journey, Deep Purple, J.J. Cale, Spirit, 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.

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 was also host to the Sex Pistols' final show, on January 14, 1978.

Final concertsEdit

During Winterland's final month of existence, shows were booked nearly every night. Acts included The Tubes,[23] 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 simulcast 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. After the show, the crowd was treated to a hot, buffet-style breakfast. The final show was simulcast on radio station KSAN-FM and also broadcast live on the local PBS TV station KQED.[24]

Winterland was eventually razed in 1985 and replaced by apartments.[25]

Live recordings at WinterlandEdit

The following films and recordings were made in whole or in part at the Winterland Ballroom:

Concert filmsEdit

Live albumsEdit


  1. ^ "Winterland Stories Photos #2".
  2. ^ "2–0 Police Journal, San Francisco, CA, Vol 7, November, 1928 – Compilation of Published Sources – MyHeritage". pp. 20–21, 88–89. Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  3. ^ Ganahl, Jane (24 August 1998). "Eddie Shipstad, Ice Follies man and philanthropist". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  4. ^ " News: 'Ice Follies' celebrates 75th anniversary".
  5. ^ "Community - Western Neighborhoods Project - San Francisco History".
  6. ^ "ICE FOLLIES- ORIGINAL 1939 program, Dual Premiere, San Francisco Winterland - eBay". eBay.
  7. ^ McDougal, Dennis (20 April 2001). "The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA, and the Hidden History of Hollywood". Da Capo Press – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Tillmany, Jack (31 August 2005). "Theatres of San Francisco". Arcadia Publishing – via Google Books.
  9. ^ "Winterland Stories - The Shows".
  10. ^ "Winterland Stories Photos".
  11. ^ "Ice Follies Return To S.F." Sausalito News. 16 May 1940. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  12. ^ Prior, Ginny (18 November 2010). "Collection tells story of legendary local rink". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  13. ^ Nolte, Carl (4 May 2008). "S.F. business leader George C. Fleharty dies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Winterland, Post and Steiner, San Francisco, CA". Jerry's Brokendown Palaces. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  15. ^ "Summers of Ice Skating". 14 May 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  16. ^ "San Francisco Org Planning West's Top Indoor Show Palace" (PDF). The Billboard. February 9, 1946. p. 43. Retrieved 21 February 2019 – via
  17. ^ "Harlick Skating Boots : Photo Galleries : Historial Ice Skating Photo Galleries".
  18. ^ "Follies Bergere in San Francisco, 1944". 1943-11-23. Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  19. ^ "Poster, card, and photo from The Folies Bergere of 1944 in San Francisco". Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  20. ^ "Folies Bergere of 1944 Opens Soon at Winterland". Berkeley Daily Gazette. November 23, 1943. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  21. ^ "Folies Bergère 1939". Archived from the original on 2014-12-25. Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ "Concert Vault". Concert Vault.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (January 25, 2018). "Rare photos of the demolition of Winterland Ballroom". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 21, 2019.

External linksEdit