The average American household spends over $3,000 on entertainment each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Companies put a lot of money into making these experiences enjoyable for fans, and it’s given way to some of the most exciting construction projects.

Part of that entertainment is music. Music has been a staple of culture since the dawn of time, and with tens of thousands of music venues in the U.S. alone, there’s no shortage of shows. Here are how four of the most famous music venues in the nation were built.

Red Rocks Amphitheater

red rocks

Location: Morrison, CO

Opened: 1941

Capacity: 9,525


  • Red Rocks consists of two, 300-foot geologically formed sandstone monoliths, which are both taller than Niagra Falls.
  • Architect Burnham Hoyt designed the amphitheater and wanted to preserve the natural beauty of the area. The construction took over 12 years.
  • In 1947, the first annual Easter Sunrise Service was held at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and has been home to some of the best performers ever since.

Famous shows: The Beatles, The Blues Brothers, U2, Depeche Mode, The Grateful Dead, Rush, John Denver, Phish, Sonny & Cher, Stevie Nicks, Neil Young

The Ryman Auditorium

ryman auditorium

Location: Nashville, TN

Opened: 1892

Capacity: 2,362


  • In 1885, Thomas G. Ryman attended a 5,000 person tent revival led by Sam Jones. Ryman was so moved by the experience that he dedicated his fortune to build the Union Gospel Tabernacle, which would later be renamed and become The Ryman Auditorium.
  • In 1943, it became home to the Grand Ole Opry. After they changed venues in the early 1970s, it sat empty and faced demolition before the city fought to completely renovate and reopen it in the 1990s.
  • It lacked modern theatre operations and needed to have offices, restrooms, concessions, a gift shop, and mechanical rooms added. Renovations were completed in 1994 and totaled $8.5 million.

Famous shows: President Theodore Roosevelt, Emmylou Harris and The Nash Ramblers, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins

Radio City Music Hall

radio city music hall

Location: New York, NY

Opened: 1932

Capacity: 5,960


  • Designed by architects Edward Durell Stone and Donald Deskey, Radio City Music Hall was built as part of Rockefeller Center as a high-quality entertainment venue at prices ordinary people could afford.
  • Completed in 1932, Radio City Music Hall is still the largest indoor theatre in the world. The auditorium measures 160 feet from the back to the stage, and the ceiling is 84 feet high.
  • Attendance declined and almost drove Radio City Music Hall to bankruptcy. It was restored and allowed to remain open after it was designated a New York City Landmark in 1978. It went through extensive renovations in 1999.

Famous shows: Devo, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Grammy Awards, Tony Awards, Daytime Emmy Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, NFL Draft

Hollywood Bowl

hollywood bowl
© Photo from

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Opened: 1922

Capacity: 17,500


  • The Hollywood Bowl’s original stage only consisted of wooden benches and a simple wooden platform with a canvas top. Proceeds from the early performances went to financing construction upgrades.
  • In 1929, Frank Lloyd Wright Jr. designed a new band shell that was made up of concentric arches, which would become the venue’s defining characteristic. That shell stood until 2003.
  • The old shell’s transite skin hardened and became an acoustic liability. The new shell takes characteristics from the old one and consists of a line-array configuration of multiple loudspeaker enclosures hung vertically in a curved manner.

Famous shows: Pink Floyd, Louis Armstrong, Nat “King” Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, The Doors, Van Halen, Elton John, Alicia Keys, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Want to know how other entertainment venues were built? See how Shawmut worked on all 30 MLB stadiums.