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Running With History Mile 9

Rose Bowl

Running With History Mile 9 – The Rose Bowl stadium, built in 1922, was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987 – the highest historic designation in the country – for its importance to the history of collegiate sports, as the long-term home of the oldest post-season college game. The Rose Bowl was also a venue in both the 1932 and 1984 Olympics.

In 1902, the first Tournament of Roses football game was held in Tournament Park, but it wasn’t until 1916 that another game was arranged. By this time, organizers had sensed the growing popularity of football, and from 1916 forward an East-West college game was an integral part of the festivities. By 1920, the game had gained such prestige that organizers knew they needed a permanent home, and settled on a City-owned site in the Arroyo Seco for their new stadium.

Prominent local architect Myron Hunt was selected for the commission. Hunt announced his plans for the stadium in 1921 – it would lie on a north-south axis, and would be built into a depression carved out of the Arroyo. It would be 1,100 feet long and 640 feet wide, with a height of 72 feet on each side. The exterior walls of the stadium are reinforced concrete, with hydraulically-packed earth supporting the stepped seating. Originally, the south end of the stadium was left open, giving the structure a horseshoe shape. This would allow for other uses for the stadium, in the event that football didn’t work out after all, as well as taking advantage of the prevailing afternoon winds.

In 1933, with the popularity of the game and facility growing, the stadium seating was expanded by enclosing the south end to complete the elliptical shape. In 1936, Myron Hunt designed the ‘Forecourt’ with the two concrete bridges over the field tunnels to the center plaza area. And in 1948 the large columns were added to support additional 11 rows along the top of the stadium. It was in 1949 that the trademark neon sign with the rose logo was erected. The Rose Bowl stadium is currently undergoing a three-year renovation, which will conclude in 2014.

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