The Garden State Arts Center (now the PNC Bank Arts Center) opened on June 12th, 1968 featuring a performance by classical pianist Van Cliburn. It was designed by architect Edward Durrell Stone, with construction beginning in 1964. According to the Arts Center’s website, it is now ranked as one of the top five amphitheaters in the country.

The facility, located along the Parkway in Holmdel, originally had seating for around 5,200 people as well as accommodating another 5,000 on the lawn; after intermittent upgrades, it now seats 7,000 with space available for over 10,000 on the lawn. During the ‘90s, classical music was all but eliminated for Arts Center shows; the Arts Center says that these days, the most popular act that appears is James Taylor, who routinely sells out three shows.

According to Wikipedia, New Jersey’s most famous performer, Bruce Springsteen, has headlined the Arts Center only twice- two shows in 2006. In 1996, naming rights for the amphitheater were purchased by PNC Bank. The Arts Center can trace its origin to the legislation that established the Garden State Parkway that called for recreation areas to be built along the road; it is owned by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and operated currently by Live Nation.

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