The Rainbow Ballroom on Broadway St was built in 1918, originally as the Fresno Natatorium, an indoor swimming pool.
Inside: A high dive platform over the massive pool with the latest spring dive boards, trapeze rings over the pool for stunts, dressing rooms and even a roof garden.
The end of that age has two historical accounts:
Longtime Fresno photographer Claude C. “Pop” Laval said the roof was destroyed in a fire in 1922 and the building was converted into a ballroom in 1924, but the book “Fresno County in the 20th Century” sets the pool’s closure in 1930.
All was not lost as the venue transformed into a hot concert location. This was the place to be with the likes of Glenn Miller, Harry James, Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey and Duke Ellington, who recorded his popular “Skin Deep” there in 1952.
The Rainbow went on to become a concert venue with legendary rock acts including Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Carlos Santana Blues Band, Ike and Tina Turner Revue and Fleetwood Mac.
Today the Rainbow is still in use and a popular venue for Latin bands and alternative rock bands. We see the ol’ Rainbow and many other historic buildings on our Taste of Graffiti walking tour this weekend. You can choose either Friday evening or Saturday morning for a fun adventure. Regular price is $49 pp but you can get a huge discount if you book in advance on Brown Paper Tickets!