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Near Northeast in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Iceman's Arena

Hub, Home, Heart

 

—Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail —

 
The Iceman's Arena Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
1. The Iceman's Arena Marker
Inscription. Uline Arena was built in 1941 by ice maker Mike Uline to present ice skating, hocky, basketball, and tennis. The Dutch immigrant, originally named Migiel Uihlein, had made a fortune patenting ice production equipment and selling ice from his plant next door. For years Washingtonians rode the streetcar here for sports, worship services, concerts, and cook-offs. Judge Kaye K. Christian recalled that during the 1950s and '60s her mother Alice Stewart Christian won the Afro-American Newspapers' cooking competition three times at Uline.

Arnold "Red" Auerbach began his professional career coaching the Washington Capitols at Uline Arena. He was hired in 1946, after having coached area high school basketball teams. Auerbach later coached the Boston Celtics to nine NBA titles.

Mike Uline segregated his audiences. African Americans could attend boxing and wrestling, but not supposedly higher-class attractions: ice hockey, the Ice Capades, and basketball. In response E.B. Henderson, a Harvard-trained health and physical education specialist and civil rights leader, protested Uline's policy. As audiences dwindled, Uline buckled to the economic pressure. In 1948 he opened the facility to all.

In 1959 Uline's estate sold the arena. The renamed Washington Coliseum soon presented the Bolshoi Ballet. In 1964, days after appearing
Washington Capitols image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
2. Washington Capitols
Left: Uline Arena owner Mike Uline, center, and Washington Capitols Coach Red Auerbach, left, discuss an airline travel contract for the new basketball team, 1946.

Right: Auerbach erupts on the bench during a 1947 game.
on "The Ed Sullivan Show," the Beatles played their first live U.S. concert here. Bob Dylan, the Motown Review, Chuck Brown, and Rare Essence also performed here.

In May 1971 the Coliseum became a holding cell for many of the 12,000 protesters arrested demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Live concerts ended in 1986. For years after, the arena stored trash. As of 2012 it awaited redevelopment.

(Back):
Trains and streetcars created the Near Northeast neighborhood around H Street. The B&O Railroad's arrival in 1835 made this a center of energetic, working-class life. Workmen living north of the Capitol staffed the Government Printing Office, ran the trains, stocked the warehouses, and built Union Station. When a streetcar arrived linking H Street to downtown, new construction quickly followed.

H Street bustled with shops and offices run by Jewish, Italian, Lebanese, Greek, Irish, and African American families. During the segregation era, which lasted into the 1950s, African Americans came to H Street for its department stores and sit-down restaurants. Most businesses welcomed all customers.

Then came the civil disturbances in the wake of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in 1968. Decades of commercial decline followed. Just off H Street, though, the strong residential community endured. The 2005 opening of the Atlas
Caps Championship and Alice Stewart Christian image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
3. Caps Championship and Alice Stewart Christian
Right: Caps star Rick Barry in the 1970-championship.

Left: Alice Stewart Christian, seen here at her 1948 wedding to Robert L. Christian, won three Afro-American Newspaper sponsored cooking competitions at Uline Arena.
Performing Arts Center signaled a revival, building evocatively on H Street's past. Hub, Home, Heart is a bridge to carry you from that past to the present.

Hub, Home, Heart: Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided, 3.2-mile tour of 18 signs offers about two hours of gentle exercise. Free keepsake guidebooks in English or Spanish are available at businesses and institutions along the way. For more on DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.
 
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 6.)
 
Location. 38° 54.342′ N, 77° 0.107′ W. Marker is in Near Northeast, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of M Street, NE and 3rd Street, NE, on the right when traveling west on M Street, NE. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20002, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Provisions for the City (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Edward Miner Gallaudet Residence (approx. ¼ mile away); Ballard House (approx. ¼ mile away); Helen Fay House
E.B. Henderson image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
4. E.B. Henderson
E.B. Henderson, seen with students in 1947, used these signs to picket during the successful battle to desegregate Uline Arena.
(approx. 0.3 miles away); Denison House (approx. 0.3 miles away); Site of the Rose Cottage (approx. 0.3 miles away); Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (approx. 0.4 miles away); "Ole Jim" (approx. 0.4 miles away).
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail
 
Additional comments.
1. Acts at Uline Arena
In the 1950's the 60's and 70's, while living in the area, I got to see Jimmy Dean with Roy Clark and Patsy Cline perform, the Barnam and Bailey Circus, The Ice Capedes, Hot Rod and Custom Car shows, Boat shows and Rick Berry's underhand free throws. Even with the name change, Uline was a D.C. Landmark... Thanks for the memories
    — Submitted October 2, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.

 
Categories. Civil RightsEntertainmentSports
 
Vietnam War Protests, Savior's Day, and Concert Bill image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
5. Vietnam War Protests, Savior's Day, and Concert Bill
Left: Police and U.S. troops guard Vietnam War protesters held in the Coliseum, May 1971.

Center: Some of the 2,000 Nation of Islam members attending a Savior's Day celebration there, 1975.

Right: Mary Wells led the bill at a 1979 concert at the Washington Coliseum.
Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
6. Back of Marker
The Beatles image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
7. The Beatles
The Beatles play in the snow outside the Coliseum before performing their first U.S. concert, 1964.
Map of the H Street Heritage Trail image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
8. Map of the H Street Heritage Trail
The Iceman's Arena Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
9. The Iceman's Arena Marker
Washington Coliseum image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
10. Washington Coliseum
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 556 times since then and 23 times this year. Last updated on , by A. Taylor of Laurel, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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