27 march 1968 & washington coliseum as 24-hour cultural space
"It's a great alternative to throwing rocks."
Mayor Commissioner Walter Washington
#OTD 27 March 1968 Mayor-Commissioner Walter Washington announced a partnership with Washington Coliseum owner, Harry Lynn (white), and Board of Trade president William Calomaris (white) to open the coliseum (1140 3rd St NE) starting 1 May as a 24-hour venue for culture and recreation during the summer. 'Operation Coliseum' was inaugurated with the arrival of 1,000+ students from 14 public housing projects who were bused in to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
The Coliseum, a music and sports arena, was a large enough venue to house simultaneous programs. Some of the proposed activities include:
1. record hops (dances)
2. athletics--basketball, ice skating, swimming in portable pool, volleyball
3. arts & crafts workshops
4. Negro history classes
John Staggers, National Capital Housing Authority community service aide, is credited with the idea for the summer program.
Your comments are welcome below. Did you go to the circus at the Coliseum? Did you attend any of the summer events at the Coliseum? Did you know John Staggers? What do you remember most about the interior/exterior of the Coliseum in 1968? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy DCPL Special Collections, 1968. This photo is from a Metropolitan Boys Club event in 1968. Photographer unknown.
Photo source: Courtesy Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, Kirov Ballet program at the Washington Coliseum, 1964. See link for info on Coliseum owner Harry Lynn.
Martin Weil, "Coliseum Planned as Summer Center," Washington Post 28 March 1968. This article includes photo of Walter Washington with children on Operation Coliseum bus.