Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coliseum History 1

With the Los Angeles Coliseum in the news, here's something you probably don't know about the structure:


Two years passed between the time Los Angeles Mayor Snyder approved the $950,000 stadium and its official completion in April 1923. The picture at left is of the Coliseum during its construction, and come from the website archives . Although the Coliseum hosted revivals, movie extravaganzas and fundraisers, and other events during the spring, the big grand opening was planned for August 2, 1923.

The President, Warren G. Harding, was set to appear.

In the days leading up to the President's appearance, plans were announced. A veteran of the Civil War would hand the President a flag. The radio stations of Los Angeles and environs all volunteered to go off-air during the time that President Harding spoke, so that his words could reach the maximum number of Angelenos. Universal Studios delivered loudspeakers for the occasion.

The Governor was to accompany the President from San Francisco. He would arrive in the morning and his motorcade (if that's the right term for 1923) would take him along 5th Street to Broadway to 7th to Figueroa. At the Coliseum, 80,000 schoolchildren would be waiting to hear a few words from their President. . . the first time, I'm sure, that Los Angeles school children ever looked forward to such an event.

The plans went on and on, but were never fulfilled. President Harding's health suffered during his western trip, which was billed as a "Voyage of Understanding." On July 15, he had been in Alaska, driving in the Golden Spike to complete the Alaska Railroad--as pictured above right.

He was diagnosed with pneumonia in San Francisco; a train trip south was out of the question. The 15,000 optimistic celebrants who came to the Coliseum an August 2 heard only the official announcement that Harding had died a half an hour before he would have dedicated the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum--at 7:35 p.m.

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