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Friday, February 24, 2012

A Dome Grows in Brooklyn (Jul, 1956)

Over at the Modern Mechanix blog they have a reprint of a article (with pictures) of the “Dodger Dome” that might have been built had it not been for Robert Moses and/or Walter O’Malley (depending on your interpretation).

Gamingboy Posted: February 24, 2012 at 09:27 PM | 40 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brooklyn, dodgers, history

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   1. TerpNats Posted: February 24, 2012 at 09:50 PM (#4068276)
As a son of Brooklynites, I hate to say it, but at first glance it would appear to have been a 1956 equivalent of the Kingdome, which might have wowed people then but would soon have showed its aesthetic limitations.
   2. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 24, 2012 at 09:51 PM (#4068278)
Interesting - more or less right where the Nets' new stadium is going up.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 24, 2012 at 10:04 PM (#4068286)
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: February 24, 2012 at 10:53 PM (#4068307)

"Interesting - more or less right where the Nets' new stadium is going up."

Roughly across the street. Not the same site, but in the neighborhood, as they say.


   5. Sam M. Posted: February 25, 2012 at 12:01 AM (#4068325)
at first glance it would appear to have been a 1956 equivalent of the Kingdome, which might have wowed people then but would soon have showed its aesthetic limitations.


Fair enough, but consider this: it would have prevented Shea Stadium from ever being built. If the contest is over aesthetic limitations, I have to believe that the Dodger Dome would have been . . . how to put this? . . . far less limited aesthetically than Shea.

Of course, then we don't get Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine (at least not then, and presumably not as it was . . . .)
   6. Accent Shallow Posted: February 25, 2012 at 12:59 AM (#4068352)

Fair enough, but consider this: it would have prevented Shea Stadium from ever being built


This is a problem . . . how?
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:10 AM (#4068358)
This is a problem . . . how?


I don't think he is saying it's a problem, I think he's saying that would have been a good thing.
   8. McCoy Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:15 AM (#4068363)
As a son of Brooklynites, I hate to say it, but at first glance it would appear to have been a 1956 equivalent of the Kingdome, which might have wowed people then but would soon have showed its aesthetic limitations.

Which would mean that around 1992 or so the Dodgers would be clamoring for a new stadium.
   9. TerpNats Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:12 AM (#4068410)
I have a feeling this dome would have a feel comparable to the old Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, a stunning venue in 1961 (when its roof could partially open for summer symphonic performances), even if it never got an NBA tenant and had to wait six years for the NHL to arrive. By 1980, it began to seem outdated, and eventually Mario got his new arena.
   10. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 25, 2012 at 03:15 AM (#4068444)
Had artificial turf been invented by 1956?
   11. esseff Posted: February 25, 2012 at 03:24 AM (#4068446)
Had artificial turf been invented by 1956?


Don't think so. When the Astrodome was built as the first domed baseball park, it was expected that they could play on real grass, which could be maintained under the glass. But the grass died out pretty quickly the first season (1965), and it was then that they went to AstroTurf, which was a brand new product.
   12. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 25, 2012 at 03:28 AM (#4068449)
I think that domes would be perceived far differently if they had had grass in them all along.

Of course, owners demanded new ballparks for the increased revenue they would bring, not for aesthetic reasons. Flimsy or not (they are generally rather flimsy), claimed aesthetic reasons are only an excuse. If the stadiums built in the '70s had been the stadiums built in the '90s, the stadiums built in the '90s would have been like the ones built in the '70s except with luxury suites and club levels.
   13. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: February 25, 2012 at 08:48 AM (#4068462)
That looks terrible. Ugly, with seats that are acres from the field, surrounded by parking lots. Thank god someone realized what a bad idea it was.
   14. depletion Posted: February 25, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4068524)
Unless they had some super plastic that blocked visible and transmitted infrared, that stadium would have been a sauna on hot days. I guess the top is actually opaque and only transparent for illustrative purposes. 'zop, I don't think this idea ever got far, NYC and Robert Moses wasn't going to help fund the desired stadium at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves. no matter what the design.
   15. Sam M. Posted: February 25, 2012 at 12:29 PM (#4068538)
'zop, I don't think this idea ever got far, NYC and Robert Moses wasn't going to help fund the desired stadium at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves. no matter what the design.


Exactly. The design was definitely not the issue. The power struggle between Moses and O'Malley was. Moses was quite willing to let the Dodgers have their new park, and as far as he was concerned a dome was just dandy -- but only in Queens at his preferred site. To O'Malley, the Brooklyn Dodgers didn't play in Queens.

And ugly though you may think this design was, it sure as hell wasn't worse than Shea. And it least it was unique.
   16. Gamingboy Posted: February 25, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4068541)
NYC and Robert Moses wasn't going to help fund the desired stadium at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves. no matter what the design.


Bingo.
   17. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4068559)
And ugly though you may think this design was, it sure as hell wasn't worse than Shea. And it least it was unique.

It looks precisely like a shapely breast. I guess I can't argue with "unique".
There are so many things wrong with that idea - from the design of the building, to the location - that one wonders whether Moses, who, for all his meglomania, was one hell of an urban designer, simply recognized how catastrophically stupid it would be to build ANY 1950's stadium in the middle of Brooklyn.
   18. Howie Menckel Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4068567)

Shea was built to be the first specially-designed baseball/football stadium.
Didn't quite work (just ask Jets fans), but there you have it.
   19. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4068576)
I wonder how this place would have played. The idea of the outfield wall with identical dimensions is pretty interesting, but unless I'm missing something, it doesn't exist outside of Williamsport. And that isn't exactly conducive to comparing how things would be at the MLB level.
   20. JE (Jason) Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:51 PM (#4068584)
Shea was built to be the first specially-designed baseball/football stadium.

Wasn't DC Stadium constructed first?
   21. SOLockwood Posted: February 25, 2012 at 06:15 PM (#4068740)
What about Milwaukee County Stadium? Or was that not explicitly multi-purpose?
   22. bobm Posted: February 25, 2012 at 07:01 PM (#4068770)
Moses, who, for all his meglomania, was one hell of an urban designer


The Bronx respectfully disagrees.
   23. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 25, 2012 at 07:05 PM (#4068775)
What about Milwaukee County Stadium? Or was that not explicitly multi-purpose?
County Stadium does not appear to have been specifically multi-purpose. I think RFK takes this one.
   24. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: February 25, 2012 at 08:50 PM (#4068822)
The Bronx respectfully disagrees.

Yeah, but that has to be considered against a career filled with genius public work. Bob Moses, like everyone else, didn't hit homeruns every time he came to the plate, particularly later in his career.
   25. Howie Menckel Posted: February 25, 2012 at 10:01 PM (#4068847)

I stand corrected: D.C. first, Shea second:

http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/nym/ballpark/history.jsp

   26. Downtown Bookie Posted: February 25, 2012 at 10:51 PM (#4068861)
You guys are forgetting Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. Courtesy the always reliable Wikipedia:

Memorial Stadium was completed in 1950 at a cost of $6.5 million. Seating 31,000 at the time, the stadium consisted of a single, horseshoe-shaped deck, with the open end facing north, and was designed to host football as well as baseball.


DB
   27. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 25, 2012 at 10:56 PM (#4068863)
County Stadium does not appear to have been specifically multi-purpose. I think RFK takes this one.

Perhaps not, but the Packers played 126 regular season games in County Stadium over 42 seasons, beginning with the year (1953) that the stadium was built. And like both DC Stadium and Shea, it was symmetrical, which is ideal for adapting for multi-sport use. This wasn't a stadium with the sort of irregular outfield distances that suggest a baseball-only park.
   28. Downtown Bookie Posted: February 25, 2012 at 11:14 PM (#4068868)
If you wish, you can go back even further, to the days of the Hoover Administration. Again, courtesy of Wikipedia, Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, dedicated on July 1, 1931, was "built to accommodate both baseball and football."

DB
   29. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 25, 2012 at 11:43 PM (#4068875)
If you wish, you can go back even further, to the days of the Hoover Administration. Again, courtesy of Wikipedia, Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, dedicated on July 1, 1931, was "built to accommodate both baseball and football."
Part of this is depends on how you define the thing. Yankee Stadium was built to handle baseball, football, boxing and track & field. I think RFK is almost certainly the first designed specifically to be the full-time home of both a baseball and football team. More than that, it's pretty open to interpretation.
   30. bobm Posted: February 26, 2012 at 02:09 AM (#4068912)
Yeah, but that has to be considered against a career filled with genius public work. Bob Moses, like everyone else, didn't hit homeruns every time he came to the plate, particularly later in his career.

There was a real dark side to Robert Moses, a visionary man with misguided (and repudiated) car-centric, anti-neighborhood visions for New York City.

Besides the Cross-Bronx he built perhaps a dozen huge expressways that killed neighborhoods and boroughs, and unsuccessfully pushed two other proposed expressways that would have plowed through midtown Manhattan, Soho and Greenwich Village with disastrous results. His urban renewal efforts (largely in the 1950s) achieved little net benefit. He fought the use of road tolls to support mass transit.

Even early in his career, Moses was kind of a sh!t. To discourage the less fortunate from using the recreational areas he built, Moses purposely designed the parkways that led there to remain for cars only (no public buses) by building bridges over the parkways with low clearances. He engineered the public authority, a type of entity which has burdened New York State with huge indebtedness. It took FDR and the War Department to stop his destructive proposed Brooklyn Battery Bridge in the late 1930s, in response to which efforts Moses closed the Aquarium at Castle Clinton largely out of spite.
   31. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: February 26, 2012 at 02:55 AM (#4068921)
Hey, guess what, I read the power broker too.
   32. McCoy Posted: February 26, 2012 at 02:58 AM (#4068923)
Moses purposely designed the parkways that led there to remain for cars only (no public buses) by building bridges over the parkways with low clearances.

This has been distorted.

How It Really Was
Caro’s and Winner’s versions have been interpreted by most readers as implying two
premises. First, that one had to use the Long Island parkways to reach the beaches;
that Moses established a physical point de passage obligatoire. Second, that Moses
pursued racist politics. As to the first claim, at the time of the parkway building
(beginning 1924), Long Island was already considerably well developed in terms of
transport. The Manhattan-Long Island railway operated since 1877, and a rather
dense system of ordinary roads was in place, parallel and across the parkways. The
Long Island Expressway, a true Autobahn intended to relieve traffic congestion on the
Island, was built by Moses alongside the Parkways. Moses’ building activities were

premised on comprehensive regional master plans. These sometimes would constrain
a particular pet project of his; but sometimes he would be able to veto other interests -
for instance, building a branch line of the Long Island railway to his beloved Jones
Beach. Again, this particular action is interpreted by Caro (and others) as indicating
his class bias and racism, but not everybody need (or will) follow these
interpretations.
In the times of the young Moses, large parts of Long Island were in the hands
of the ‘robber barons’, the rich money aristocracy of New York,33 whose quasi-feudal
life-style combined with an unchecked industrial capitalism. Of course, one must
never forget that Moses was a big player in city and regional development planning,
both on account of his strong visions, and of his ingenious entrepreneurial and
organizational schemes. As to his overall concept for Long Island, he believed that
the private property development and commercialization made possible by the
railroad and the road system destroyed the paradise he had discovered since he went
with his young family to Babylon (on Long Island) in the early 1920s. He dreamed up
his parkways to preserve what could be preserved, and to submit the Island to
benevolent state control by building and controlling parks.34
Today, New York historians quibble over whether Moses, with his parks and
parkways (built in part on land appropriated from the barons),35 prevented the
ultimate commercialization, industrialization and ecological destruction of Long
Island, thereby saving what could still be saved, or whether he entered into all kinds
of unholy alliances with the robber barons and thereby furthered the sell-out of the
commons.36 The fact remains that blacks could gain physical access to Long Island
beaches via many routes. And yet Jones Beach remained a white strand. Even today,
when many more blacks drive cars, and when no politician tries to exclude them from
the beaches, not many poor blacks seem to gather on Jones Beach.37 There existed
then, and there exist today, many reasons for black families to go elsewhere. It
seems to me that, all in all, Moses could not build the relations he wanted to build into
his parkways - whatever they were - and that he could not arrest the development he
wanted to prevent.
And so the low bridges have lost much of their explanatory power: how, then,
should one understand that Moses built some 200 overpasses so low? US civil
engineers with whom I have corresponded regularly produce two simple
explanations for the rationality of the low-hanging bridges: that commercial traffic
was excluded from the parkways anyway; and that the generally good transport
situation on Long Island forbade the very considerable cost of raising the bridges. In
other words, Caro and Winner don’t know what they are talking about.


pdf
   33. Flynn Posted: February 26, 2012 at 04:53 AM (#4068933)
County Stadium in Milwaukee had elements that were designed for football. For example, the lower grandstand was extended in 1955 down the right field line, but not down the left field line. That was pretty clearly to accommodate the Packers. It's just that extending a grandstand down the line was all pro football could demand in the 1950s, because it just wasn't that popular.
   34. Flynn Posted: February 26, 2012 at 05:01 AM (#4068934)
OK, so a right-wing German guy who has never performed any academic work in the US has the gall to say Robert Caro, a native New Yorker who was an active journalist during Moses's career and interviewed Moses and members of his team extensively for his one thousand, three hundred and thirty-six page book doesn't know what he's talking about.

That's not a rebuttal, that's Joerges saying he wants to wear a red nose, because he's a ####### clown.
   35. Gamingboy Posted: February 26, 2012 at 11:48 AM (#4068991)
Robert Moses is such a interesting and divisive individual that the fact there has not yet been a Oscar-nominated biopic on him is a disappointment. Wonder who'd play him...
   36. BDC Posted: February 26, 2012 at 01:20 PM (#4069021)
I have never liked driving on the various parkways that Moses had built: they are narrow and twisty and to my Texas-engrained auto expectations, just plain dangerous. Someone who spent a lot of time commuting on Long Island once pointed out to me, though, that the parkways' twistiness prevents you from having to drive straight into the rising or setting sun for long periods – which the Long Island Expressway, straight as a die for long stretches, is notorious for. A point for Moses, I reckon. Lincoln Center is also a really lovely, human-scaled, "user-friendly" urban place, though I don't know how much input Moses had into the design. Jones Beach is really beautiful, too: just as a physical gateway to a natural feature (whatever the sociological implications raised in #32), it has a very laid-back, welcoming design.

When I lived in New York I would take crazy all-day walks across boroughs. I must say that Manhattan has to thank God that Moses' plans to cut across it with various elevated expressways never came to pass. As people have noted upthread, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens are all chopped up by highways that form neighborhood-killing or -isolating cordons. You walk across those boroughs stopping stressfully every few miles for another no-man's land: that's a persistent feature of their design. Manhattan escaped, and much of its eventual renewal in the past 25 years has been helped by the fact that there are no impediments to people walking to the next district over.
   37. BDC Posted: February 26, 2012 at 01:25 PM (#4069022)
Oh, and just to re-hijack the thread back to its origins :) It's fascinating to see how neither Moses nor many other city planners of the postwar years could envision a not-too-distant future when a baseball stadium in a street grid, downtown or in one of the 1910s baseball neighborhoods, could be a far more attractive anchor for urban development than a place like Shea, which exists basically to be driven to and away from, and is so strangled by highways (and train lines, granted) that there will never be an organic neighborhood around it. Just imagine the wealth (of all kinds) of a Brooklyn that had a downtown or neighborhood stadium participating in the boom of the 1990s and 2000s.
   38. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 26, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4069028)
OK, so a right-wing German guy who has never performed any academic work in the US has the gall to say Robert Caro, a native New Yorker who was an active journalist during Moses's career and interviewed Moses and members of his team extensively for his one thousand, three hundred and thirty-six page book doesn't know what he's talking about.


YOU KNOW WHO ELSE WAS A RIGHT-WING GERMAN GUY ???!!
   39. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 26, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4069032)
When I lived in New York I would take crazy all-day walks across boroughs. I must say that Manhattan has to thank God that Moses' plans to cut across it with various elevated expressways never came to pass. As people have noted upthread, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens are all chopped up by highways that form neighborhood-killing or -isolating cordons. You walk across those boroughs stopping stressfully every few miles for another no-man's land: that's a persistent feature of their design. Manhattan escaped, and much of its eventual renewal in the past 25 years has been helped by the fact that there are no impediments to people walking to the next district over.

Washington didn't completely escape the curse of the Interstates, but it could have been much worse. If you look at an old DC road atlas from the 60's, you'll see the proposed I-95 cutting through the heart of Brookland and Takoma Park. (Thank God for Sammie Abbott.) On top of the destruction of Southwest by "urban renewal" and the blockbusting by real estate profiteers that scared the bejesus out of much of the white middle and working class and caused them to flee en masse to the suburbs**, it's a minor miracle that Washington didn't become a more or less permanent version of Johannesburg.

**DC went from 70% white in 1950 to over 70% black by 1970, thanks in great part to these well-documented scare tactics.
   40. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 26, 2012 at 02:09 PM (#4069038)
This book by Gay Talese is mostly about the actual building of the Verazzano Narrows bridge--the last "great" Moses project--but it has several excellent chapters about the residents in Bay Ridge who were forcible displaced.

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