The Beatles to the US by storm in 1964. For a country still mourning the tragic death of its young president, the arrival of the Fab Four was a joyous occasion. Two days after they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show they took a train from New York to Washington. And performed their first concert in a REI store.
Well, it wasn’t a REI store then. It started out as the Uline Arena, named after it’s builder Michael Uline, the son of Dutch immigrants whose family was in the ice business. Constructed in 1940 its first show was the Ice Capades.
The arena was home to the short-lived Washington Capitals basketball team and Earl Lloyd, the first African American to play in the NBA, first played at Uline Arena on October 31, 1950.
Uline was also home to the even shorter-lived Washington Lions hockey team. One of President Dwight Eisenhower’s two inaugural balls was held at here in 1953. In 1959 Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam gave a speech in the arena.
In 1960 the arena’s new owner renamed the building Washington Colosseum. And that’s where the Beatles come to perform their first US concert on February 11, 1964
But after that the arena went into rapid decline. In 1971 it was a make-shift detention center for students arrested protesting the Vietnam war. Plans to make it a church fell through. For a time, it was a trash transfer station and then a parking lot.
Today the structure has been renovated and renamed the Uline Building. And it’s one of a number of changes that is rapidly gentrifying its neighborhood. And the space where the Beatles played that first US concert is now a REI store.