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A Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corp

The Open Air-Theater (Amphitheater) is 20 tiers of stone and masonry seating built into the slope of the Papago Buttes by the Civilian Conservation Corps. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn into office in March of 1933, our country was gripped by the Great Depression. Unemployment rate had risen to 25%. To create job opportunities and training, the new president formed the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC hired, trained and housed mostly young men and used this civilian army to build public works projects. 

The Open Air Theater at Papago Park was one of the CCC’s early projects. It was built between December 1933 and April 1934. When finished, the theater became a popular community gathering location. Easter Sunrise services, concerts and events were held at the 3,500-seat amphitheater. Almost all the parking was lost with the widening of McDowell Road. Today, the site is used mostly for those running up and down the seats for exercise or as a trail head for climbing the Papago Buttes.

The Open Air Theater is a great place to visit for all those who are interested in seeing the positive legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The Open-Air Theater is a 1.4 mile walk from Papago Park along McDowell Road. For directions, go to the Locations Tab, and under attractions click on the Scottsdale Attractions drop down list.

Article and photos by Bret Wirta