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6 old stadiums in Philadelphia you probably didn't know about

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From Temple's first stadium to Shibe Park on Lehigh Avenue

Shibe Park. Photo via <a href="http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/hhh.pa0882.photos.140035p/">Library of Congress</a>
Shibe Park. Photo via Library of Congress

South Philly may be home to all of the city's stadiums today, but you might be surprised to know that North Philly was where all the magic began. Take Baker Bowl, for instance, which stood at Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue and was the first home of the Phillies. And just a few blocks away was Shibe Park, which was once described as "the greatest place of its character in the world." And that's just the start of it. Here are six football and baseball stadiums that once stood in Philadelphia. Just in time for the Super Bowl, let's take a trip down memory lane, when these behemoths only cost $100,000 to build and tickets to see a Jimi Hendrix concert in them set folks back $6.50.


Columbia Park (1901-1908)—This short-lived stadium was the first home of the baseball team Philadelphia Athletics. Seating just over 13,000, it ultimately proved to be too small to accommodate enough fans. The team eventually moved to the bigger and better Shibe Park, abandoning Columbia Park. It was eventually demolished in the 1910s.


Baker Bowl (1887-1950)—One of Philly's first real stadiums was located in a residential area at Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue. Built for just $101,000 and to seat 12,500, it was the first home of the Phillies. In 1894, however, the entire stadium except for the brick exterior walls burnt to the ground. Another stadium was built in its place, this time with 18,800 seats. It hosted a number of noteworthy games, including the first World Series with a U.S. president in the house, the first "Negro League World Series," and Babe Ruth's final major league game in 1935. In Philadelphia's Old Ball Parks, author Rich Westcott writes, "As the inning ended, Ruth tucked his glove in his pocket, turned, and ran to the clubhouse in centerfield. The fans, sensing that the end of a glorious career might have arrived, rose and gave Ruth a standing ovation." But after more fires and neglect, the stadium's history came to an end when it was torn down in 1950.


Frankford Stadium (1923-1931)—This small stadium was home to Philly's first NFL team, the Frankford Yellow Jackets. Located in a small neighborhood called Wissanoming at Frankford Avenue and Devereaux Street, it didn't have a long history. The stadium was destroyed by arson in 1931, forcing the team to play some games at the Baker Bowl. But the Yellow Jackets never really recovered from the loss and stopped playing in 1931. Not to worry—they later became the Eagles.


Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium (1909-1976)—Located at 21st and Lehigh Avenue just a few blocks from Baker Bowl, this steel and concrete stadium seated 40,000 people and was home to the Philadelphia Athletics and ultimately, the Phillies from 1938-1971. The facade of the structure was built in a French Renaissance style, with arched windows and a dome tower at the entrance. In the book How Baseball Explains America, Phillies Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn is quoted as saying, "It looked like a ballpark. It smelled like a ballpark. It had a feeling and a heartbeat, a personality that was all baseball." U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the stadium in 1944. Sadly, the stadium burnt down in 1971 and was razed in 1976.

John F. Kennedy Stadium (1926-1992)—This horseshoe-shaped brick stadium first opened in South Philly on April 15, 1926 as part of the Sesquicentennial International Exposition. When the celebration ended, it became the Philadelphia Municipal Stadium, and finally, in 1964, it was renamed the John F. Kennedy Stadium. It was first home to the Philadelphia Quakers of the first American Football League, and eventually the Eagles. It also served as the neutral venue for 41 Army-Navy games. It played double-duty as a popular concert venue, hosting the Beatles, Judy Garland, the Rolling Stones, and the Live Aid Concert in 1985. It was ultimately demolished due to safety issues in 1992. The Wells Fargo Center has since taken its spot.


Temple Stadium (1928-1997)—As Temple University makes a move to build a new football stadium on its campus, it's worth remembering that the school did have its own arena for almost 70 years. Although, it wasn't on Temple's North Philly campus—the team had to bus over to West Oak Lane. The stadium was built with a budget of $350,000 and had 34,200 seats. It was also the site of the 1970 Super Saturday Rock Festival, which featured the Grateful Dead, Steve Miller, and Jimi Hendrix. Tickets ran for just $6.50. The stadium was demolished in 1997 for the same price that it was built.

·Stadiums and Arenas [Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia]
·Stories and Memories: Wissanoming [Center for NE Phila. History]
·Baker Bowl [Explore PA History]
·Shibe Park [Explore PA History]
·Unearthing a Lost Temple [Hidden City Philadelphia]
·Onward, the Beaten Path [Temple]