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."
"Careful research and straightforward prose make this an excellent introduction [to the history of Dodger Stadium]."--Publishers Weekly
"When the Dodgers left Brooklyn, their troubles had just begun. Jerald Podair's account of the Los Angeles end of the story superbly chronicles the fierce collisions that ensued, pitting private power against the public good. The creation of Dodger Stadium also created modern Los Angeles, which makes this book an indispensable contribution to the history of modern urban America."—Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
"What is the price of a game? What is it worth to a city and its residents to boast a professional sports franchise? These questions need to be answered—but seldom are—before urban leaders make deals to build stadiums, often with staggering implications for their cities. City of Dreams is required reading for anyone who cares about how our sports obsession affects the urban landscape."—Randy Roberts, coauthor of Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X
"City of Dreams documents the steep social price Los Angeles paid when, fifty years ago, its power elite used the highly subsidized Dodger Stadium to launch the city into modernity. To what ends and to whose benefit? Podair asks. Hard questions, indeed, that other American cities with subsidized stadiums are asking too."—Kevin Starr, University of Southern California
"A brilliant reconstruction of the battle over Dodger Stadium, City of Dreams is a vivid and indispensable story about baseball and the making of modern urban America."--Gary Gerstle, author of Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government from the Founding to the Present
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