Overview & History
The historic Pasadena Civic Auditorium opened in 1932 and is one of the most revered performance halls in the nation.
The Civic has set the stage for many Broadway musicals, world-class ballet performances, symphony orchestras, and celebrity speakers. It has also hosted television events such as the Emmy Awards, People’s Choice Awards, American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. The 2,997 seat Pasadena Civic Auditorium is a part of the Pasadena Civic Center District which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located on the second floor, the classic Gold Room provides an unforgettable setting for smaller meetings, receptions, or dinner parties of up to 300 guests.
The Pasadena Civic is the perfect blend of the old and the new. It stands as a lasting symbol of the quality and beauty of this great city. Its location within the Pasadena Center also makes it the ideal spot for meetings and events.
In February 1932, during the lowest ebb of the Great Depression, the new Pasadena Civic Auditorium was dedicated “to the citizens of Pasadena, whose efforts and sacrifices have made the erection of this beautiful and useful building possible.” In the decades since its dedication, the Civic has hosted millions of patrons from several generations of Southern Californians.
1930s and 40s
The Civic has been the center of Pasadena’s cultural life by hosting thousands of community events such as Rose Queen Ceremonies, graduations, benefit concerts, speeches by famous personalities, and countless programs for children. The live radio broadcasts of the big band dances from the Civic in the 1940s helped to spread the fame of Pasadena across the United States.
1970s — Pasadena Center
With the construction of the Pasadena Center around the Civic Auditorium in the 1970s, the Civic became part of a full-service convention center complex that includes a conference building, exhibition building, and an adjacent hotel and parking garage.
1980s — Traveling Moller Organ
On April 23, 1980, the Traveling Moller Organ was dedicated to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium after having traveled throughout Europe, surviving World War II, and a stint at Organ Power Pizza in San Diego.
As a home for ballet, symphony, popular music, musical comedy, and television programs, the Civic is known for hosting a wide variety of special events. Among the many great orchestras of the world, the Civic has hosted the New York Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Pasadena Symphony, and is home to MUSE/IQUE, a counter-conventional orchestra. The Civic has hosted the dance program for the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival as well as repeating engagements of the American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the San Francisco Ballet.
Legendary Musical Performances
The list of performers who have graced this stage is an overview of the great performers of the twentieth century. Diverse artists such as Marian Anderson, Victor Borge, Eric Clapton, David Copperfield, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Josh Groban, Hal Holbrook, Bob Hope, Luciano Pavarotti, Arthur Rubenstein, Carlos Santana, and Stevie Wonder have all performed at the Civic.
A favorite location for television and film, the Civic hosted the Prime Time Emmy awards for more than twenty years. The theater is particularly well known for its TV specials such as Ray Charles 50 Years in Music and the Motown 25th Anniversary Television Special.
The Civic was once a regular stop on the Broadway touring circuit with such productions as Cats, Les Miserables, Riverdance, Beauty and the Beast, and Evita.
Continuing Our Legacy
The Civic continues to host award shows, cultural performances, musical shows, and graduation ceremonies. The historic Pasadena Civic Auditorium, its grand lobbies, and resplendent Gold Room can be seen in episodes of “America’s Got Talent,” “American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Scandal,” and “NCIS.” The Civic is a grand theater with a varied and proud tradition.