A story about baseball, family, the American Dream, and the fight to turn Los Angeles into a big league city.
Dodger Stadium is an American icon. But the story of how it came to be goes far beyond baseball. The hills that cradle the stadium were once home to three vibrant Mexican American communities. In the early 1950s, those communities were condemned to make way for a utopian public housing project. Then, in a remarkable turn, public housing in the city was defeated amidst a Red Scare conspiracy.
Instead of getting their homes back, the remaining residents saw the city sell their land to Walter O'Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Now LA would be getting a different sort of utopian fantasy -- a glittering, ultra-modern stadium.
But before Dodger Stadium could be built, the city would have to face down the neighborhood's families -- including one, the Aréchigas, who refused to yield their home. The ensuing confrontation captivated the nation - and the divisive outcome still echoes through Los Angeles today.
Eric Nusbaum is a former sports editor at VICE. In addition to VICE, his work on sports, history, and culture has appeared in ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Outside, The Daily Beast, Deadspin, and the Best American Sports Writing anthology. Eric was born and raised in L.A. He has spent many hours both attending games at Dodger Stadium, and sitting in traffic to reach those games. He has also lived and worked in Seattle and Mexico City.
An exhilarating, splendidly illustrated, entirely new look at the history of baseball: told through the stories of the vibrant and ever-changing ballparks where the game was and is staged, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic.
From the earliest corrals of the mid-1800s (Union Grounds in Brooklyn was a “saloon in the open air”), to the much mourned parks of the early 1900s (Detroit’s Tiger Stadium, Cincinnati’s Palace of the Fans), to the stadiums we fill today, Paul Goldberger makes clear the inextricable bond between the American city and America’s favorite pastime. In the changing locations and architecture of our ballparks, Goldberger reveals the manifestations of a changing society: the earliest ballparks evoked the Victorian age in their accommodations—bleachers for the riffraff, grandstands for the middle-class; the “concrete donuts” of the 1950s and ’60s made plain television’s grip on the public’s attention; and more recent ballparks, like Baltimore’s Camden Yards, signal a new way forward for stadium design and for baseball’s role in urban development. Throughout, Goldberger shows us the way in which baseball’s history is concurrent with our cultural history: the rise of urban parks and public transportation; the development of new building materials and engineering and design skills. And how the site details and the requirements of the game—the diamond, the outfields, the walls, the grandstands—shaped our most beloved ballparks.
A fascinating, exuberant ode to the Edens at the heart of our cities—where dreams are as limitless as the outfields.
Paul Goldberger, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, began his career at The New York Times, where he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism for his writing on architecture. Later, and for fifteen years, he was architecture critic for The New Yorker. He is the author of many books, most recently Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry and Why Architecture Matters. He teaches at the New School and lectures widely around the country on architecture, design, historic preservation, and cities. He and his wife live in New York City.