America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
Meriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland.
History comes in many forms, at historic sites culled from important acts and dates of political or military significance, it comes on lands shaped by forces much stronger than man with spires and geysers galore, and it comes in the sites and sounds that fill our ears and lives. In eastern Maryland, in the suburbs of Baltimore and not far from Washington, D.C., the Merriweather Post Pavilion has been hosting the musical version of history since 1967, including some of the most historic acts of the last nearly fifty years. Yes, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelen, and Queen, interspersed with symphonies and all set in the woods of a park within a planned suburban community. Photo above: Brian May & Roger Taylor of Queen performing at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, July 20, 2014 with Adam Lambert.
Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
Meriweather Post Pavilion
The history of Merriweather Post begins in the mid-1960's when reknowed architect Frank Gehry was commissioned to design an amphitheather in Symphony Woods to host the summer season of the National Symphony Orchestra. If you're not that into the history of architecture, some of Frank Gehry's work includes the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa, Spain, Disney Village at Disneyland Paris, his own Gehry Residence, and he is currently involved as the designer of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial planned for Washington, D.C.
At Merriweather Post, he was commissioned to design the structure within the forty acres of the park, named for the heiress Marjorie Meriweather Post of the American Post Foods multi-national corporation. Yes, your morning breakfast cereal. Originally there were 5,000 covered seats and room for 5,000 on the lawn.
The first season saw the National Symphony Orchestra in residence (they would remain there in the summer for awhile before moving to Wolf Trap) and the New York City Ballet from 1967 to 1969. There's been ups and downs associated with Merriweather. It rained so hard during the first performance that the symphony goers had to run barefoot to the parking lot so they didn't ruin their shoes, the national symphony went bankrupt after the first year, and the funds that were due for the project from the Post family didn't all come through.
Oh, well, ... what we have now is a beautiful place to watch a concert, as they've been doing there for generations for fans of the Who, newer acts like Ed Shearen, Fun, and the Lumineers, country folk like Brad Paisley, or rock legends who graced the stage in 2014, Queen plus Adam Lambert.
If you feel like going to a concert at any time in the future and you're in the Baltimore/Washington area, check out the list of artists from a variety of genres who will play the historic outdoor setting Billboard magazine ranked as the 2nd best amphitheatre in the United States in 2010 and Rolling Stone Magazine rated 4th in 2013.
Buy a ticket for the floor standing section (not lots there so you're bound to have a good spot and you'll have Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day fame to thank for the section), the pavilion seats, or the lawn, then sit back and enjoy. It will be one of the best music experiences of your life, and you'll get to be a little part of history, too.
Photo above: The seated section of the Meriweather Post amphitheatre, which, along with the stage is covered.
Where Is It and How to Get There
From Washington (South) - 495 to 95 North toward Baltimore. Take Route 32 West toward Columbia, then 29 North. Exit 18B, Broken Land Parkway and look for signs to park. From Baltimore (North) - 695 West/South to Interstate 70 West (Exit 16) to Route 29 South toward Columbia. Take the South Entrance Road exit, then turn right, then left onto Symphony Woods Road. Look for parking signs.
What's There Now
Concert Amphitheatre with 15,500 total seats.
General Admission Floor Seating.
Covered pavilion seats.
Perfomances by some of the nation's best music acts from rock, country, soul, and alternative.
When Did It Open
July 15, 1967. First performance for the Columbia Debutante Ball by the National Symphony Orchestra. Piano performance by Van Cliburne. Vice President Hubert Humphrey in attendance.
How Much for Tickets
Individual Tickets. Varies depending on act. High end, $45 lawn, $125 best seats.
Season runs May to early October.
Approximately 250,000 per year.
Meriweather Post Pavilion
There's Fort McHenry, Baltimore Harbor, Hampton National Historic Site, and all those Washington, D.C. attractions. You're also not too far away from Monocacy and Manassas National Military Parks.
Photo above: Fort McHenry. Courtesy National Park Service.
Photos, History, and More Spotlights
Battle of Kelly's Ford, Rappahannock River, Virginia. Phelps Wildlife Management Area.