An eerily empty Civic Center, featuring an unlit City Hall on March 15, 2020. Beth LaBerge/KQED
An eerily empty Civic Center, featuring an unlit City Hall on March 15, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

PHOTOS: Marquees Light Up as Doors Close on Bay Area Venues

PHOTOS: Marquees Light Up as Doors Close on Bay Area Venues

Just after the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, March 17, a shelter-in-place order went into effect in six Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley, requiring people to stay at home save for essential activities until April 7.

The Bay Area’s theaters and concert venues closed days earlier, as concerns about limiting the spread of the coronavirus halted gatherings of over 1,000 people, then 250 people, then 100, 50 and 10. As KQED Art’s senior editor Gabe Meline put it, “Our civic life has ground to a halt.”

And yet, even in those shuttered venues and empty streets, there is beauty. KQED staff photographer Beth LaBerge captured the region’s performance spaces—usually full of activity, surrounded by crowds, backdrops to a vibrant urban bustle—eerily devoid of human life. All that remains, for the time being, are messages of support on their marquees. –Sarah Hotchkiss

The Warfield, a Goldenvoice venue photographed on March 15, 2020, closed on March 11; the last show was Korean American singer Eric Nam. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The Chapel on Valencia Street, a former mortuary turned music venue photographed on March 15, 2020, offered a parting note to the community. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The Orpheum Theatre on Market Street, photographed on March 14, 2020 and run by Broadway SF, has canceled all performances of 'Hamilton' through April 30. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
'We're pressing pause for the moment,' the Independent, photographed on March 15, 2020, said on social media of the music venue's closure. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The Tenderloin's Great American Music Hall, photographed on March 15, 2020, has been open since 1907. They closed their doors and issued a PSA. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The Golden Gate Theatre, on March 14, 2020. Also run by Broadway SF, the Golden Gate canceled musicals 'The Last Ship' and 'The Book of Mormon' through April 30. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, photographed on March 15, 2020, is run by Another Planet Entertainment and looks toward a hopeful future of rescheduled concerts. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Bimbo's 365, a club in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, has a sign that reads, 'Stay Strong, Safe and Well. See You Soon!' (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
An ambulance drives by the Fox Theater in Oakland on March 17, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The New Parish in Oakland sits empty as the Bay Area adopts a "shelter in place" policy to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Oakland's New Parish music venue on March 17, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
A bus drives by the Paramount Theatre, an art deco concert hall in Downtown Oakland, on March 17, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
A car drives through the empty streets near Oakland's Grand Lake Theater, on March 17, 2020, the first day of the shelter-in-place order. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The Grand Lake has become known for its political marquee messages. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Sponsored