clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Before Levi's: A Look Back at San Francisco's Storied Stadiums

New, 1 comment

Let's take a look back at San Francisco's stadiums of yesterday. Here now are the past 125+ years of football in photos.

Haight Street Grounds
Constructed in 1887, the Haight Street Grounds was a baseball park built for the California League. Bounded by Stanyan, Waller, Frederick, and Cole streets, the stadium hosted college football and in 1892 was the first home to the "Big Game"—Cal vs. Stanford. It was the start of a football rivalry that has lasted more than a century.

Ewing Field
The field at Geary and Masonic was originally built in 1914 as a baseball stadium for the San Francisco Seals, though foggy weather and poor attendance caused the team to return to the Mission soon after. In 1923 Ewing Field was transformed into a football stadium for high school and college games, but in 1926 someone tossed a lit cigarette under the grandstand, sparking a huge fire that spread to the Western Addition. The abandoned stadium was eventually torn down in 1938.

Kezar Stadium
In the early 1920s, the City accepted a $100,000 gift from the early pioneer Kezar family for a memorial, and eventually added another $200,000 to complete construction of the stadium. For its first 20 years, the site hosted a slew of different sports like track and field competitions, car races, rugby, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, boxing, cricket, and football games, and also served as the home field of several local schools. The 49ers were founded in 1946 and adopted Kezar as their home stadium, playing their first game on September 8, 1946 against New York. The stadium was notorious for rowdy crowds and its bird problem, as flocks of seagulls would descend upon the crowd looking for scraps of food. The team played 25 seasons there, before moving into Candlestick Park, with their last game at Kezar Stadium on January 3, 1971 against the Dallas Cowboys. Later that year, Clint Eastwood filmed a famous Dirty Harry scene at the stadium, where he (spoiler alert!) shoots Scorpio from across the field. In 1989 the original stadium was demolished (though the original indoor pavilion nearby remains) and rebuilt with seating for 10,000, an eight-lane clay track and a large grass field used for soccer, football, and lacrosse. There is a replica of the original concrete arch on the west side as a tribute to the original stadium.

Candlestick Park
When originally constructed in 1958, Candlestick Park was the home to the recently moved San Francisco Giants. Part of the acquisition of the Giants from New York included an agreement to build them a new stadium to replace Seals Stadium. It was the first "modern" baseball stadium, built entirely of reinforced concrete and designed by John Bolles. Then-Vice President Richard Nixon threw out the first baseball on the opening day of Candlestick Park on April 12, 1960. The park went on to host some of the Oakland Raiders games and the last live Beatles concert in 1966. The stadium was originally constructed with an open view out to the bay, but was enclosed with stands built around the outfield during the winter of 1970–71 when the 49ers moved from Kezar Stadium. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake infamously struck minutes before Game 3 of the World Series between the Giants and the A's was to begin. No one in the stadium was injured, and people credited the stadium's design for saving thousands of lives. They delayed the series for 10 days to give engineers time to check the structural stability, but only minor damage occurred. After the 49ers moved to Levi's Stadium, Candlestick was imploded to make way for a massive mixed-use development by Lennar Urban.

· Plans Announced to Blow Up Candlestick Park Next Year to Make Room for Shopping Center [Curbed SF]
· Those "Plucky" Forty-Niners: The Roots of Pro Football in San Francisco [Tramps of SF]
· Ewing Field [The Western Neighborhoods Project]
· Kezar Stadium [Ballparks]
· Kezar Stadium in its Glory Days [Curbed SF]
· Origins of the 'Stick [Curbed SF]
· Mega Development and Housing Approved for Candlestick Site [Curbed SF]
· Kezar Stadium [Stadiums of Pro Football]
· Loma Prieta [National Geographic]

Candlestick Park

490 Jamestown Ave., San Francisco, CA 94124