- Morrison, CO
- Site Type:
- Parks and Recreation, Amphitheaters and Bandshells
- New Deal Agencies:
- Work Relief Programs, Works Progress Administration (WPA), Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
- Burnham Hoyt
- Quality of Information:
- Very Good
- Site Survival:
The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is probably the greatest single project of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and one of the most memorial accomplishments of the New Deal’s public works programs. It is a magnificent outdoor theater set among the spectacular red rock formations of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, just southwest of Denver, Colorado. It seats over 9,000 people.
Red Rocks was built between 1936 and 1941. After the CCC had prepared the site by blasting and removing tons of stone, leveling the immediate surroundings and building access roads, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) contributed funds and hundreds of relief workers so that joint work crews could complete the seating, stage, and parking areas.
Red Rocks amphitheatre (it officially retains the archaic spelling) and surrounding Red Rocks park are part of the City of Denver parks system. The theater is still very much in use for theatrical productions, musical concerts, and public events, and it has become a major tourist attraction in its own right. So many famous musicians have performed there that a Colorado Music Hall of Fame was established on the site in 2015.
Text from the aerial photograph of construction, shown below, adds that the Historic Landmark Registry cites the amphitheater’s “strong horizontal lines” as one of the its most distinctive features. The CCC developed a concrete distribution trough, an ingenious system for pouring the material in such uniform and visually pleasing lines. It also notes that the CCC men contributed ideas to the final design of the walkway known as “The Bridge” on the amphitheater’s south side.
The stage wings were originally designed in an Art Deco style, adapted to the site with a unique curvature in the design and stone cladding. Higher stage wings were built in 1960 and a new roof was added in 2020.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 and designated a National Historic Site in 2015.
Site originally submitted by Shaina Potts on November 11, 2012.
Additional contributions by Frank da Cruz, Pam Ives, Richard Walker.
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