Where was the Polo Grounds?

Some questions just nag at you.

I seem to recall seeing old aerial photos that showed the Polo Grounds on the extreme northern edge of Manhattan, almost directly across the Harlem river from Yankee stadium. In fact, I thought you could literally walk across a bridge from one to the other.

A friend of mine who attended Yankee games in the early 60s insists that while the Polo Grounds was near the Harlem River, it wasn’t across from Yankee Stadium, and in no way could anyone get show both stadiums in the same photo, unless maybe it was a satellite.

Any old Giants fans on the Board?

I just saw such a photo the other day. Indeed, they were very close to each other, right across the river. I’d imagine that if the Polo Grounds had a window on the outside wall of the CF clubhouse, you could see Yankee stadum from it.


The first Polo Grounds was between 110 and 112th Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

The second Polo Grounds was between E 155th and E 157th Streets and 8th Avenue and the Harlem River Speedway.

I’m not a New Yorker, but have been to both ball fields. This map will help. Ball Fields

The red star is the approximate location of Yankee Stadium. The Polo Grounds was on, or near, 8th Ave. and 155th St. across the river. I think the bridge under the “St” in “W 155th St” on the map carries the subway tracks across the river and you could see both fields when you took the train to Yankee Stadium.

My guess is they were 2-3 miles apart.

Thanks. Not being a New Yorker, addresses and intersections, etc. that I found Googling had no meaning for me.

It’s really funny that I didn’t even look at my own map! There is a scale of miles down in the lower left hand corner which says that the two were only about 1/2 mile apart, as the crow flies.

So whenever I say something, it pays to check up on it, I guess.

I have found it interesting that, while many people criticized Walter O’Malley, the Dodgers’ owner in the 50s, for moving the team into the L. A. Memorial Coliseum and setting up its own Green Monster, so to speak, in left field–251 feet away from home plate–nobody makes a peep about the distorted dimensions of the Polo Grounds (foul lines 257 and 279 feet long, and center field 480 feet), the grossly distorted outfield and foul lines in Yankee Stadium (Left field, 301 feet; straightaway center, 461 feet–Al Gionfriddo caught Joe DiMaggio’s fly at the 451-foot line–and right field, 296 feet), or skewed dimension in Braves Field in Boston (1915-1952) or League Park in Cleveland (until 1938).
Indeed, in the Polo Grounds, Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard ‘Round the World in 1951 cleared the fence at 280- feet; Vic Wertz’ center-field shot in the 1954 Series was caught by willie Mays at 470 feet.
I live in the L. A. area and I know no ballpark other than the Coliseum was available to the Dodgers in 1958. O’Malley had no other choices. (Dodger Stadium was not opened until 1962.)

Actually O’Malley was toying with the idea of modifying the Rose Bowl for baseball. Some seats would have had to have been removed.

But the city of Pasadena didn’t want all that traffic. Some also thought that O’Malley might have tried to spruce up Wrigley Field a bit. The Angels managed to play a season there.

Whether the Rose Bowl could have accommodated major-league baseball at that time I don’t know, other than what you posted, Bob. Was it used for anything other than the January 1 game then?
Wrigley Field? If the size of the blocks in central Los Angeles is any indication–and Wrigley Field occupied about a block and a half then–the Dodgers would have been hard put to fit the team and its fans into that minor-league park, which was smaller than Ebbets Field. (The Gilbert Lindsay Center is on the site now.) The Giants spent two seasons in the small Seals Stadium near Hunters Point; granted Candlestick Park wasn’t the ideal place, it was better than Seals Stadium!

Wrigley Field was only a last resort. O’Malley wasn’t too fond of the site. It was a little too “urban” for his tastes.

But O’Malley did own it when he came to L.A. He swapped it for the Chavez Ravine site. Such a fair trade!

As for the Rose Bowl, it was used on January 1 and for a few other football games per year. There used to be a Junior Rose Bowl featuring JC teams. There would also be occasional high school football games. Pasadena High and Muir High play their annual game at the Rose Bowl.

To Bob: I found an interesting story of the acquisition of Chavez Ravine in The Los Angeles Dodgers, by Paul Zimmerman, who later became the L. A. Times sports editor. If you can find this book by all means read it. (I found a copy in the library in Manhattan Beach about a year ago.)

Thanks, I’ve actually read a whole lot of info about the Chavez Ravine situation.

Although Dodger Stadium was privately financed, it still represented an early example of a city selling out its residents in order to get a sports franchise.

O’Malley is everyone’s favorite villian in the piece, but there is plenty of evil to go around.

“Selling out its residents”? Which residents?
Zimmerman’s book comments on this. I noted that in one of Nash and Zullo’s Baseball Hall of Shame books, they rake O’Malley over the coals for taking the Dodgers out of Brooklyn; Bill James tells the other side of the story–involving urban decay and postwar competition for the sports fan’s attention–in at least one of his books.
A lot of the acrimony about the Dodgers leaving the East Coast seems to be based on two points:

  1. The team was viewed as a public utility.
  2. “Brooklyn” had some kind of inherent right to a major-league team. (Items: The 1876 NL charter did not permit any one city to have two or more teams; Brooklyn became part of Greater New York on January 1, 1898, thus putting the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants (The AL Yankees didn’t exist until the 1903 season) in clear violation of the charter. Go after MacPhail, Ebbetts, the Stonehams, John T. Brush etc., while you’re attacking O’Malley.)

Actually I was referring to the City of Los Angeles trading some prime land that it owned and had planned to use for public housing and swapping it for the Wrigley Field parcel.

L.A.'s public housing was pretty much halted in the late 1950s because real estate interests managed to convince everyone that it was a Communist-backed.

As for the people in Brooklyn, I’ve never lost much sleep over their loss. If Brooklynites loved their team as much as they claimed, perhaps they would have shown up for the games.

Originally posted by BobT

Absolutely. James’ point was that the parks major-league teams had been playing in for a long time, were sited in areas that eventually suffered from serious blight; Ebbetts Field in Flatbush and the Polo Grounds in eastern Harlem were cases in point. Besides, for decades fans had taken streetcars, or even buses, to the games; when public transit started to decline after World War II (with its concomitant gasoline rationing, which Cecil took up in the original Straight dope book), there was no parking for cars. I have been in the Exposition Park area many times and can attest to the vast expanses of parking there. But the old Eastern parks did not have this–though I grant that Manhattan has ample public transit to this day. :slight_smile:

Just finished reading “The house that Ruth built” by Robert Weintraub. It had an aerial photo that contained both ballparks.

Great read. John McGraw actually had the Giants dress at the Polo Grounds and walk across the bridge to Yankee Stadium for World Series games.

Nice to see a new poster who contributes something. Welcome aboard.

Was it either of these?

Polo Grounds

*“The Polo Grounds was the name given to four different stadiums in Upper Manhattan, New York City, used by many professional teams in both baseball and American football from 1880 until 1963. …”

Odd off-topic note: David Simmons hasn’t been here in 4 years, yet is still a Charter Member. Either he reups each year before the deadline, only to not actually use his membership, or he paid up for multiple years at once sometime years ago.