Hearst Greek Theatre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hearst Greek Theatre
The Greek Theatre Berkeley Sign.jpg
Address2001 Gayley Rd
LocationBerkeley, California
OwnerUniversity of California, Berkeley
Operatorconcerts promoted by Another Planet Entertainment
Hearst Greek Theatre
Hearst Greek Theatre is located in Oakland, California
Hearst Greek Theatre
Hearst Greek Theatre is located in California
Hearst Greek Theatre
Hearst Greek Theatre is located in the United States
Hearst Greek Theatre
Coordinates37°52′25.3″N 122°15′15.1″W / 37.873694°N 122.254194°W / 37.873694; -122.254194Coordinates: 37°52′25.3″N 122°15′15.1″W / 37.873694°N 122.254194°W / 37.873694; -122.254194
ArchitectJohn Galen Howard
Architectural styleGreek Revival
MPSBerkeley, University of California MRA
NRHP reference No.82004644[1]
BERKL No.153
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMarch 25, 1982
Designated BERKLFebruary 25, 1991[2]

The William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre, known locally as simply the Greek Theatre, is an 8,500-seat Greek Theatre owned and operated by the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California, USA.

The Greek Theatre hosts The Berkeley Jazz Festival, pop, rock, and world music concerts, UC Berkeley graduation ceremonies, occasional addresses by noted speakers, and other events. Past speakers include President Theodore Roosevelt, William Randolph Hearst, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama.[3]


The Hearst Greek Theater was built in 1903 on the site of a rough outdoor bowl already in use as an amphitheater since 1894 known as "Ben Weed's Amphitheater". The project was championed by University of California president Benjamin Ide Wheeler and was the first university building designed by John Galen Howard.[4] Its construction was financed by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, after whom it was named. The design of the theater is based directly on the ancient Greek theater of Epidaurus.

It officially opened on September 24, 1903, with a student production of The Birds by Aristophanes. However, while still under construction in May 1903, the theatre hosted a graduation ceremony with an address by President Theodore Roosevelt, who was a friend of Wheeler's from New York.

In 1957, a basement backstage area was added, which was designed by Ernest Born. It includes a large plaza flanked by two stage-level constructions.[5]

In 1967 The Grateful Dead played the Greek for the first time, and went on to play 29 total concerts by 1989.[6]

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.[1]

Over the years, the Greek Theatre has seen performances from hundreds of musical and theatrical artists.[7] The Greek has also long been the venue for a number of annual events including departmental graduation ceremonies, the commencement convocation for graduating seniors, and the Bonfire Rally before the Big Game each year with Stanford. Charter Day ceremonies and inaugurations of University of California presidents and Berkeley chancellors have been held at the Greek Theatre with certain exceptions, such as the 1962 Charter Day ceremony at which President John F. Kennedy spoke -- held at California Memorial Stadium for its larger capacity.[8]

Another Planet Entertainment became the exclusive concert promoter at the Greek in 2004.[9]

In May 2012, a seismic retrofit and expansion was designed by Palo Alto architecture firm, CAW Architects and constructed by Overaa Construction. Four new reinforced concrete columns were added and concealed in the original structure.[5][10]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ "Berkeley Landmarks". Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  3. ^ "How Students Helped End Apartheid". universityofcalifornia.edu. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Roma Pacifica: John Galen Howard, Greek Theatre".
  5. ^ a b "Award of Merit, Renovation/Restoration: UC Berkeley's Hearst Greek Theatre". ENR California. McGraw-Hill Construction. November 27, 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  6. ^ "The SetList Program - Grateful Dead Setlists, Listener Experiences, and Statistics".
  7. ^ Title: Sarah Bernhardt as Phaedre in the Greek Theatre of Berkeley Creator(s): Genthe, Arnold, 1869-1942, photographer Date Created/Published: between 1906 and 1942; from a negative taken in 1906. Medium: 1 slide : lantern ; 4 x 5 in. or smaller. Call Number: LC-G4085- 0035 Repository: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
  8. ^ "Address at the University of California, Berkeley, March 23, 1962". John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
  9. ^ California, Berkeley Daily Planet, Berkeley. "Clear Channel Loses Greek Theater Concerts". berkeleydailyplanet.com. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Historic Greek Theatre safe, sound and superb after upgrades". News Center. UC Berkeley. Retrieved 23 August 2014.