- Parks and Facilities
Jerry Garcia Amphitheater
The Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in McLaren Park is a Greek-style amphitheater that hosts a variety of outdoor concerts and events throughout the year. Using the park's natural surroundings, The Amp offers tremendous views and superb acoustics, making concerts there an unforgettable experience. It's named in honor of Jerry Garcia of famed band The Grateful Dead, who grew up in the adjacent Exelsior neighborhood.
Part of McLaren Park’s vast acreage had a land formation that could be used as a natural amphitheater. The natural ground formation was mentioned in a 1936 newspaper article, long before it was developed. At the time there were still views to the Portola and Visitacion Valley Districts from the hillside before trees were planted.
Years later, the area was built-out during a period of the park’s development. On October 16, 1971 the Greek-style amphitheater opened with a seating capacity of 1200 and room in the surrounding area for others to place blankets and folding chairs. The open-air stage’s sounding board was a series of concrete linear trough forms set vertically, which were placed in an incomplete hexagonal plan. It was designed by Architect Alex Yuill-Thornton and constructed by contractor Warner and Levikow, Inc. for an approximate cost of $220,000. In 2000 a sum of $1 million was spent to upgrade the venue with elements such as toilet rooms and facilities for the disabled.
On July 21, 2005 the Recreation and Park Commission named the venue “Jerry Garcia Amphitheater.” Garcia (1942-1995) was the Grateful Dead band’s singer, songwriter, and guitarist who spent his boyhood years living at 87 Harrington Street in the nearby Excelsior District. With the name change, Deadheads gathered for their own informal celebration at the amphitheater on August 7, 2005 for “Jerry Day” to commemorate his life, art and music. An official celebration for the general public followed on October 29, 2005 at the theater, which was dedicated with live music, including bands such as Jefferson Starship, and speeches.
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