On the sixtieth anniversary of the Dodgers' move to Los Angeles, the full story of the controversial building of Dodger Stadium and how it helped transform the city.
When Walter O'Malley moved his Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1957 with plans to construct a new ballpark next to downtown, he ignited a bitter argument over the future of a rapidly changing city. For the first time, City of Dreams tells the full story of the controversial building of Dodger Stadium—and how it helped create modern Los Angeles by transforming its downtown into a vibrant cultural and entertainment center.
In a vivid narrative, Jerald Podair tells how Los Angeles was convulsed between 1957 and 1962 over whether, where, and how to build Dodger Stadium. Competing civic visions clashed. Would Los Angeles be a decentralized, low-tax city of neighborhoods, as demanded by middle-class whites on its peripheries? Or would the baseball park be the first contribution to a revitalized downtown that would brand Los Angeles as a national and global city, as advocated by leaders in business, media, and entertainment?
O'Malley's vision triumphed when he opened his privately constructed stadium on April 10, 1962—and over the past half century it has contributed substantially to the city's civic and financial well-being. But in order to build the stadium, O'Malley negotiated with the city to acquire publicly owned land (from which the city had uprooted a Mexican American community), raising sharply contested questions about the relationship between private profit and "public purpose." Indeed, the battle over Dodger Stadium crystallized issues with profound implications for all American cities, and for arguments over the meaning of equality itself.
Filled with colorful stories, City of Dreams will fascinate anyone who is interested in the history of the Dodgers, baseball, Los Angeles, and the modern American city.
Jerald Podair is professor of history and the Robert S. French Professor of American Studies at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. He is the author of The Strike That Changed New York and Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer. He is a recipient of the Allan Nevins Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians for "literary distinction in the writing of history."
"By 1956, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Walter O'Malley, was a frustrated man. The rival New York Yankees, from a 67,000-seat stadium in the Bronx, ruled Major League Baseball. The Boston Braves had just moved to Milwaukee and increased home attendance by 600% -- dramatically boosting their revenue and their advantage in the quest for talent. Decrepit Ebbets Field, by contrast, had only 32,000 seats, making it one of the smallest ballparks in the majors. O'Malley knew he needed a new stadium to compete. How "O'Malley came by that new stadium is vividly recounted in Jerald Podair's City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles. It's the tale of how the fight to bring the Dodgers west transformed not only Major League Baseball but Southern California as well, determining what kind of city 20th-century Los Angeles would be. . . . Podair is right to see this as a critical moment in Los Angeles's history and is a sure-footed guide through the political fight."---John Buntin, Wall Street Journal
"Careful research and straightforward prose make this an excellent introduction [to the history of Dodger Stadium]."--Publishers Weekly
"A thoughtful new book."--Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times
"City of Dreams . . . has a number of strengths. . . . [T]he research is deep [and] Podair . . . avoids taking sides."--Nicholas Evan Sarantakes, Real Clear Books
Table of Contents:
Preface: Opening Day In Los Angeles xi
1 Roads West 1
2 Walter O’Malley’s Los Angeles 25
3 Fighting the Dodger Deal 51
4 The Referendum 91
5 In the Courts 127
6 Whose Land? 153
7 The Arechiga Dispossessions 181
8 Private Gain, Public Good? The Business of Baseball in Los Angeles 201
9 Building the Dodger Stadium Experience 233
10 The Rise of Sam Yorty 263
11 The Modern Stadium 279
Epilogue: Dodger Stadium And Modern Los Angeles 307