Posts Tagged ‘Shea Stadium’

The Polo Grounds, Coogan’s Bluff, and the Brush Memorial Stairway

January 9th, 2013

The Polo Grounds was located in Harlem, New York, at 157th Street and 8th Avenue. Various incarnations of ballparks at that location were home to three different major league teams: the National League New York Giants from 1891 to 1957, the New York Yankees from 1913 to 1922, and the New York Mets in 1962 and 1963, as well as a team from the Players’ League in 1890 also known as the Giants) .   Prior to 1890, a sports venue known as the Polo Grounds was located in Manhattan near Central Park, and a second venue, also known as the Polo Grounds, was located at 155th Street and 8th Avenue on a plot adjacent to the Polo Grounds at 157th Street.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds Postcard Showing Newly Rebuilt Ballpark After Fire Destroyed the Original Ballpark (Success Postal Card Co., photo New York Times)

The original wooden ballpark at 157th Street was destroyed by fire in 1911 and a new concrete and steel ballpark was constructed on the site.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds (H. Pinkelstein & Sons, American Art Publishing)

The new Polo Grounds were the third concrete and steel ballpark in the country.

Polo Ground’s Concrete and Steel Construction (Library of Congress  Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Coogan’s Bluff  (not to be confused with the movie of the same name starring Clint Eastwood) was located northwest of the Polo Grounds just beyond home plate at 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue. The playing field of the Polo Grounds sat in Coogan’s Hollow

New York City Park Sign Advertising Coogan’s Bluff

Rock outcroppings just northwest of the ballpark at Harlem River Driveway (which dissects Coogan’s Bluff) provided an excellent vantage point for free viewing of at least portions of the ball field.

View of Polo Grounds From Coogan’s Bluff at Harlem River Driveway (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Those rock outcroppings remain to this day along Harlem River Driveway, providing an excellent view now of Polo Grounds Towers.

Looking Southeast Toward Polo Grounds Tower No. 4 from Coogan’s Bluff and Harlem River Driveway

In 1913 a stairway at 157th Street and Edgecomb Avenue in Harlem was constructed to allow subway riders who departed the 155th Street station more direct access to the ballpark at Harlem River Driveway. That stairway remains, a lasting baseball relic of the Polo Grounds at its former site.

Stairway at 157th Street and Edgecomb Avenue.

The stairs, whose inscription states  “The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants,” was dedicated in 1913 to the former Giants’ owner.

“The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants”

The Brush Memorial Stairway emptied onto the sidewalk at Harlem River Driveway, allowing fans direct access into the Polo Grounds from Harlem River Driveway.

Polo Grounds and the Harlem River Driveway (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

A second stairway that would have taken fans north of the ballpark at ground level still exists alongside Harlem River Driveway.

Looking Northeast Down Harlem River Driveway and Stairway to Former Site of Polo Grounds

Old Yankee Stadium was located southeast of the Polo Grounds, just across the Harlem River.

Aerial View of Yankee Stadium and Polo Grounds (photo from stuffnobodycaresabout.com)

Aerial View of Old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Ground Towers

Aerial View of Old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Ground Towers

In 1923, Yankee Stadium was visible from inside the Polo Grounds, across the Harlem River.

Polo Grounds, Opening Day 1923, with Yankee Stadium Visible Beyond Center Field (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Prior to its demise in 2009, Old Yankee Stadium was still visible from Coogan’s Bluff at Harlem River Driveway looking southeast past the Polo Grounds Towers.

View of Old Yankee Stadium Looking Beyond Former Site of Polo Grounds, Circa 2001

The Polo Grounds Towers, which were built on the ballpark’s former site and completed in 1968, consist of four high rise apartments with a total of over 1600 units.

Entrance to Polo Grounds Towers on 8th Avenue

A plaque marking the approximate location of home plate is located on a column of Tower No. 4.

Plaque Honoring Polo Grounds and Former Location of Home Plate

The apartment building located at 155 Edgecombe Avenue is visible from the former location of home plate looking back toward Coogan’s Bluff.

Plaque Marking Location of Home Pate, with Apartment Building at 555 Edgecombe Avenue in Background

A sliver of that same apartment building is visible in top right corner of the postcard below.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds Showing Buildings Lining Edgecombe Avenue on Coogan’s Bluff (Alfred Mainzer, NY, NY, Curteich-Chicago)

The New York Giants abandoned the Polo Grounds in 1957, moving to San Francisco and Seal Stadium in 1958 and then Candlestick Park in 1960. Subsequent to the Mets move to Shea Stadium in 1964, the Polo Grounds was demolished.

Polo Grounds During the 1912 World Series (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Although nothing remains at the actual ballpark site, the Brush Memorial Stairway does provide a link to the past. The stairway has sat in obscurity and disrepair for years, however an effort is now underway to restore the stairway and, with it, a piece of New York’s baseball past and baseball glory. See MLB.com article about restoration of John T. Brush Stairway [Editor’s Note: The Brush Memorial Stairway has been restored and is open for use. Woods surrounding the stairway have been turned into a small park with lighting, making the stairway quite accessible. A sign has been placed on Edgecombe Avenue at the entrance to the stairway.]

Polo Grounds During the 1913 World Series (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

 

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Shea Stadium’s Ghost in the Shadow of Citi Field

October 17th, 2011

Shea Stadium was home to the New York Mets from 1964 to 2008.

Approaching Shea Stadium from the No. 7 Train

Located in Flushing, New York, adjacent to the former grounds of the 1964 Worlds Fair, Shea was the second of the so-called “cookie cutter,” multi purpose stadiums, following RFK stadium (formerly D.C. Stadium), which opened in 1961.

Shea Stadium Gate E Located Near Right Field

Stadium access by subway was behind the stadium via stairs to the Willets Point subway stop.

Shea Stadium Beyond Stairs To Willets Point Subway Station

The stadium facade was for the most part a series of walking ramps from the ground floor to the upper reaches of the stadium.

Shea Stadium Exterior

Out beyond center field was a large parking lot which, thankfully, was not visible from lower seating bowl.

Shea Stadium on a Beautiful Summer's Afternoon

Prior to construction beginning on Citi Field, the area beyond center field seemed almost bucolic.

Shea Stadium Outfield Pre Citi Field Construction

Shea Stadium’s home run apple, which rose out of an upside down top hat, sat just beyond right-center field.

Shea Stadium's Home Run Apple

The right-field scoreboard included a lighted-neon panoramic outline of the New York City skyline.

Shea Stadium Right Field Scoreboard

On a clear, summer afternoon, Shea Stadium was a great place to watch a ballgame.

Shea Stadium With Pedro Martinez on the Mound

The distance from home plate to dead center field was 410 feet, one of the longest in the majors.

Shea Stadium - the View from Center Field

The view from inside the stadium seating area changed dramatically when construction began on Citi Field.

Shea Stadium Right Field Scoreboard with Citi Field In Background

The juxtaposition of the two stadiums provided plenty of interesting camera angles for capturing the past and the future of baseball in Flushing, NY.

View of Citi Field from Shea Stadium Section 27

From 2006 until its closing in 2008, every visit to Shea Stadium was a reminder that the ballpark’s days were numbered.

Looking Through Shea Stadium Ramp toward Citi Field

It seemed a shame that the team couldn’t have found a way to incorporate part of the old stadium structure in the new ballpark.

Can't We Both Just Get Along? Shea and Citi Field Side by Side

Still, Citi Field does pay homage to its predecessor in several ways.  The former site of Shea Stadium is marked in parking lot B of Citi Field.

Shea Stadium Home Plate Marker

Arrive several hours before game time and you should have no problem running the bases of old Shea Stadium.

Shea Stadium Home Plate Marker Looking Toward PItchers Mound

In addition to home plate and the pitcher’s mound, each base is denoted with a bronze marker.  The figurine etched into the marker denotes the neon ballplayers that once graced the gate entrances of Shea Stadium.

Shea Stadium First Base Marker

The home run apple was moved from its former location beyond Shea Stadium’s right-center field to Citi Field’s front entrance just beyond the Willets Point subway stop.

Shea Stadium Home Run Apple Adorns Citi Field Parking Lot

The NYC Neon skyline was removed from the top of Shea Stadium’s right-field scoreboard and placed atop Citi Field’s Shake Shack located beyond center field.

NYC Skyline Removed From Shea's Old Right Field Scoreboard

Also located beyond the outfield is the Shea bridge, a pedestrian walkway honoring William Shea.

Shea Bridge Relocated to Citi Field

A plaque on the side of the bridge pays homage to Mr. Shea, the namesake of the Mets’ former ballpark.

Plaque Attached to Shea Bridge at Citi Field

Although Shea Stadium has joined the ever-growing list of lost ballparks, its memory lives on at the Mets’ new home, Citi Field.  It’s ghost now sits in Citi Field’s shadow, more specifically, parking lot B.

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