FanPost

All roads lead to Dodger Stadium: An essay

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Dodger Stadium is the third oldest stadium in Major League Baseball. It's easy to forget, as fifty some years isn't a whole lot of time but it's true. Wrigley Field and Fenway Park stand as testaments to war era inner-city stadiums built to fit within city block constrictions and with low capacities.

LA had their own such stadium in their own Wrigley Field. However, when coming west O'Malley wanted the stadium of the future. Freeways were the future. In 1962, Los Angeles' freeway system was just coming into the modern age.

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via media-cache-is0.pinimg.com

However, it wasn't just freeways. O'Malley was still old school enough to know that a stadium had to be built centrally, at the confluence of freeways. It's why a freeway out to Flushing Meadows wasn't enough to make him stay in New York. LA had just such a system.

You can see on the Dodger's 1962 Souvenir Yearbook, the opening year of Dodger Stadium, that one of it's selling points was the freeway system which gave access to the stadium from all points in LA, San Bernadino, and Orange County.

I've shared this program map before. My favorite part about it is the color coded freeways with flags saying the names of the different freeways. Because the freeway system was also something folk were trying to get the word out about. Also, it shows why LA people refer to the freeways with "the". Because before they were numbered, you could take the Harbor Freeway, the Pasadena Freeway, the Hollywood, the Ventura, the San Bernadino, the Santa Ana, or the Golden Gate to Dodger Stadium.

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via www.lamag.com

My new find is this map issued by AAA showing the state of freeway construction in Los Angeles in 1962. You're gonna need to click to see the larger version, and even then there's so much detail on the map it can be hard to read.

The important takeaways for me are just how piecemeal the whole system was built. As funds became available, sections were added on. Now we have the simplicity of "the 101" but back in the day through Hollywood was the Hollywood Freeway, then at the bend it's the Ventura Freeway.

Driving around you'll notice that both names are on the signs. There are a bunch of names that the DS program leaves out as they don't connect to Dodger Stadium, but are used to get there now. The west side of LA is served by the San Diego Freeway, which at that point only went as far as the Long Beach Freeway. By August 1964 it would reach Cypress and it was only budgeted to connect to the Santa Ana and on to San Diego.

The Santa Monica hadn't been constructed yet, and it was only under construction as far as La Cienega. The Riverside Freeway went as far as the Santa Ana, and it wasn't budgeted yet to reach the Harbor as it does now.

My main takeawy from this map is just how ambitious the plan was. This is as extensive a freeway system as other cities had subway systems. At the time they didn't see gridlock or the smog it would create, planners simply saw the future. It was a future so grand Walt Disney built Autopia in his Disneyland so kids could pretend to drive on the vast highway system of the future. Rockets, submarines, and freeways.

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via 1.bp.blogspot.com

This is a helicopter photo taken from the KTLA telecopter on January 3, 1962. It was probably used during a newscast to explain where the $16,000,000 stadium was going to be built, with it's 49,000 seat grandstand and 7,000 seat centerfield pavilion. It also points out the various access roads.

The Pasadena freeway runs along the bottom edge of the photo, with a dirt path over a hill that would eventually become the Downtown entrance. Chavez Ravine road became Stadium Way. Solano Ave leads to the Academy Gate. Effie Street is the Golden State Freeway's road into Dodger Stadium via the Golden State Gate.

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via 4.bp.blogspot.com

Here's another view on that Dodger Stadium construction. The Hollywood freeway is labeled in the background. Elysian Park ave. from the previous photo takes you into the stadium between the hills via the Sunset Gate. Exiting the Hollywood Freeway today at Echo Park and taking Sunset west will get you to Dodger Stadium as it did in 1962. The grandstand built into the hill is starting to take shape, and yes plenty of parking is planned for.

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via jpg1.lapl.org

Here's a newspaper graphic showing the new roads built for Dodger Stadium from the Pasadena freeway and the flow around the parking lot. Northbound there's a new Downtown ramp connecting to Hill St as well as continuing on to Stadium Way. From Stadium Way motorists continue on to the Downtown parking fee gate. The southbound Pasadena freeway also got a Stadium Way exit as well as a Stadium Way entrance further down.

Stadium Way was also extended underneath the Pasadena freeway, providing an entrance to Dodger Stadium and the freeway from Bishops Road and Cathedral High School. The graphic says Bishops Road has been renamed Stadium Way, but if it was it's been renamed again since.

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via jpg2.lapl.org

My last photo I honestly can't explain. This is the earliest proposal photo of Dodger Stadium, when the project was going to cost $12,000,000 and include a public recreation center. The photo also shows Stadium Way as a proposed freeway. I've never heard of such a proposal before, and the freeway would have been quite short simply connecting the Pasadena with the Golden State with an offramp for the stadium.

At any rate, you can see how much O'Malley valued freeways, wanting as many as possible with their own road into the stadium. Each of those freeways connected to other freeways which connected Dodger Stadium to Ventura County, San Bernadino County, Orange County, and the harbor area. That was the plan all along, and it was a fairly new plan.

Dodger Stadium stands as a testament to life in 1962, not just baseball. It was a world not concerned with intra-city transit through a densely populated area. It was a world that wanted to see an entire region as one interconnected area.

Yeah, and it doesn't work during rush hour. Still, someone dreamed this crap up.

Update:

It's been bugging me that I didn't mention where the money came from for this Los Angeles freeway system. 1956 saw the signing of the Federal Aid Highway Act by Dwight D. Eisenhower. It initially authorized $25 billion for the construction of 41k miles of Interstate Highways. The money went into a trust fund, and states building interstates could get 90% of their funding from the fund. The money was generated from taxes on fuel, automobiles, trucks, and tires. So motoring enthusiasts were directly funding the roads they would drive on.

There were two four lane or greater Interstates planned as part of the national grid for Los Angeles, the Golden State going north, the San Bernadino going east, the Santa Monica going west, and the Santa Ana going south.

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via upload.wikimedia.org

The Arroyo-Seco highway in Pasadena was built by the state. The Hollywood and Ventura Freeways are part of the United States Highway System which gets going with the Federal-Aid Road act of 1916, which offered 50-50 funds with Federal matching State contributions. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921 established a west coast office.

So 1962, when Dodgers Stadium nestled where all these Freeways and Highways met, it was the apex of decades of work funded at the federal, state, and local level.

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