For as long as the game has been played, baseball has been a mirror for our society, reflecting American culture and values, and serving as an arena for the competition of ideas. Racial equality, principles of democracy, and ethical controversies have all played out on its fields. And while it’s the game that has given the fields their purpose, it is the fields that have added to the character and soul of the game.... Read More →
Ed. note: The London 2012 Olympics have captured the imaginations and curiosity of the Preservation Nation team (along with the rest of the world). So what better time to visit places from Olympics past? Check out what Preservation assistant editor Elizabeth MacNamara saw during a recent visit to Lake Placid, NY ...
Just seven cities in the world have hosted the Olympics more than once since the modern games began in 1896. London tops the list, with 2012 being the third time Olympic hopefuls have competed for gold in the Square Mile. Back over the pond in America, the summer games came to the city of Los Angeles in 1932 and 1984, and the winter games to the mountain village of Lake Placid, New York, in 1932 and 1980.
I recently joined my family for vacation in Lake Placid and took pictures of the places “where miracles are made,” as they say. Here are some of the Olympic venues that I visited:
The Astrodome, now a windswept relic. (Photo: kshilcutt on Flickr)
8th Wonder: A Tour of Houston's Rotting Astrodome - Houston Press
"The Reliant Astrodome was -- is -- the Eighth Wonder of the World. Generations of Houston-area kids spent their days dreaming of playing on the field under that massive domed ceiling. On Tuesday, April 3, Reliant officials gave a handful of members of the media a tour of the once-magnificent Mid Century American icon." Story: Digging Around the All-But-Abandoned Astrodome.
Restoring Retro Hollywood, One Apartment at a Time - The Atlantic Cities
"Los Angeles native Dave Goldstein is passionate about historic restoration. He began collecting and restoring vintage apartment buildings 25 years ago. Today, he has a portfolio of 30-plus properties restored to their original condition, and a following of art deco and Hollywood groupies lining up to rent them."
Hold That Bridge! This Dilapidated Warehouse Is a Landmark - The Bay Citizen
"The massive steel infrastructure that supports construction of the new Bay Bridge carefully straddles a dilapidated 19th-century warehouse. This nondescript, reportedly asbestos-infested wreck had been discarded for most of a century. Some consider the structure, known as Building 262, so historically important that the new $6 billion bridge construction must be accomplished without disturbing or damaging the relic."
Dodger Stadium Turns 50: Top 10 Moments - Los Angeles Times
"Times columnist John Hall wrote, from opening day of the 1962 season: "Los Angeles has itself a major league ballpark, a truly remarkable stadium that is obviously destined to become recognized as the finest in the world. And those who were there will never forget how it all started...""
Ohio Tears Through Blighted Housing Problem - National Public Radio
"Shuttered homes often draw arsonists, vandals and scrap metal thieves. To help alleviate those problems, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wants to destroy abandoned homes all across the state. He's setting aside $75 million of the state's mortgage settlement money to fund the demolitions."
Staff for the National Main Streets Conference arrived into Charm City with the familiar refrains of Hairspray’s “Good Morning Baltimore” running through our heads. Obvious reference, maybe, but an apt one seeing as many of us had been waking up at dawn to prepare for the day's activities and sessions.
Baltimore's Washington Monument. (Photo: Gavin St. Ours on Flickr)
I grew up in the Washington, DC metro area, so taking a quick jaunt up to Baltimore from time to time has never been out of the ordinary. This time, though, I’m actually spending the night. It’s like I’m twelve again, with that giddy feeling you get from staying over in a new place.
And while sitting in on and tweeting about sessions has been great, I’ve had a few highlights of my own:
- Seeing the original Washington Monument, a setting I know well from reading Laura Lippman’s mystery novels.
- Visiting a co-worker's house in an Olmsted Brothers Homeland neighborhood, complete with the old estate ponds that were once used to harvest ice.
- Being treated every morning with a magnificent dawn overlooking Camden Yards.
Speaking of Camden Yards … one thing you must know: I’m a tennis girl through and through -- although not totally ignorant about baseball. I've heard of Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken, but I never thought I would actually feel the awe of a baseball stadium.
That is, until I took a tour of Camden Yards. I know it's a relatively new stadium (they're celebrating twenty years this Saturday at opening day), but when you walk around the underbelly you can see the historic features from the adjacent warehouse that was rehabbed for use as team offices, and how the stadium architects were determined to have the actual stadium merge with the building and landscape. We walked on the field, learned about the people, and saw the beams that connect warehouse with baseball field.
I also learned about how every year on Edgar Allen Poe's birthday someone leaves a rose and wine for him on his gravestone, and how the church where he's buried is built partially on top of (literally platformed over) the graveyard. Why? Because when it was built during the city's expansion in the 1840s and 50s, city officials didn't want graveyard land taken by buildings.
The roundhouse at Baltimore's B&O Railroad Museum. (Photo: Orbital Joe on Flickr)
Last night, the final party was inside the historic B&O Railroad Museum -- a roundhouse building built originally to showcase the promise of the American railroad. My twelve-year-old self reared its head and I stared up at the ceiling twirling around and around.
Baltimore was good to me. Although I have, on other trips, seen many other parts of the city, it was nice to see a familiar place in a different light.
Baseball stadiums and movie theaters. They're both public gathering spots that are commonly found in cities both large and small across the United States. But it's not every day that you find someone so passionate about both as San Francisco's Alfonso Felder.
Not only is he a senior vice president with the San Francisco Giants baseball team - where he directs facilities - he's the president of the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, a group formed to save and preserve the city's many treasured movie houses. We talked with Alfonso to learn more about how he got where he is today, and what it's like advocating for old theaters across the city he loves so much.
How did you get involved with the San Francisco Giants?
I grew up a fan of the Giants at Candlestick Park and played baseball as a kid. In high school, I was an usher for the Giants, and later got involved with the team's front office through some of the campaigns to build the new ballpark.
AT&T Park is a relatively new stadium. What are you most proud of about the design, and were there preservation values considered when designing it?
I'm proud of the fact that it's really well integrated into the existing urban environment. It feels like it belongs, and its shape is dictated by its unique waterfront site. It's obviously not historic, but I think it feels more like Wrigley Field or Fenway Park than a Disney version of an old park. It feels authentic.
The view from AT&T Park onto the Embarcadero and the China Basin neighborhood. (Photo: jillmotts on Flickr)
What got you interested in theater preservation?
I grew up going to movies with friends in neighborhoods all over San Francisco. It's how I got to know the city and appreciate its diverse neighborhoods. When I started to see many of my favorite theaters close, I knew I wanted to do something about it. I've also always had a healthy interest in architecture - particularly the design of places of public assembly.
The marquee of Balboa Theatre, located in the Outer Richmond neighborhood. (Photo: Whole Wheat Toast on Flickr)
When you're advocating for these old theaters, what are the Foundation's main priorities for reuse? To just save the buildings, or to preserve them as functioning theaters?
We love it when movie theaters stay movie theaters, as few other uses are as effective in maintaining broad public access to the buildings. Movie theaters are also great anchors for commercial districts, and help to keep streets active at night. If a theater can't work for movies, some other form of entertainment is a great second option.
Beyond that, other uses that involve public assembly are good because they maintain public access and relate to the original intent of the building - churches and even gyms can fall into this third tier. A thoughtful retail reuse is preferable to more dramatic conversions like housing, but we always shoot first for an entertainment use. ... Read More →