Philadelphia Sports History Trail
With stops at over twenty landmarks, monuments, and historical markers, this trail includes past and present Philadelphia sports venues and other landmarks related to the history of sport.
For more than three decades Veterans Stadium (AKA "The Vet") was home to Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies and The National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles. Primarily known for two things, its rowdy fans and terrible playing field, Veterans Stadium hosted some iconic personalities and historic events between it's opening day on April 10th, 1971 and it's last game on September 28th, 2003.
Veterans Stadium used to be a large part of Philadelphia life for three decades before it was torn down. Having been able to hold over 60,000 people it was once one of the largest stadiums in the NFL. While that title doesn't hold today, Veterans Stadium has still left a considerable impact on our society.
The Spectrum, home of the Philadelphia 76ers and Philadelphia Flyers was open from 1967 to 2009. The 18,168 seat capacity arena held many events apart from the sports related fields such as an Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, and Pearl Jam concert. The arena even held boxing fights including Mike Tyson. Although the building was demolished in 2010 under the name “Wachovia Spectrum” and replaced with a parking lot, the special memories held within its walls will be remembered forever.
The Wells Fargo Center is a stadium in Philadelphia that is home to the Philadelphia Flyers and the 76ers. It was the host site for the historic 2016 Democratic National Convention from July 25-28, 2016, in which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination over Senator Bernie Sanders, with a 54% to 46% ratio of delegates.
The South Philadelphia Sports Complex is a multi-acre complex located in South Philadelphia, PA. The complex first housed Sesquicentennial Stadium (also known as Municipal Stadium) in 1926 for the Sesquicentennial Exposition. In 1964 the stadiums name was changed to John F. Kennedy Stadium to honor the fallen President. Past stadiums in this complex include; JFK Stadium, Veterans Stadium, and The Spectrum. Current stadiums in this complex include Lincoln Financial Field, Citizens Bank Park, and The Wells Fargo Center.
Home of the Philadelphia Eagles
Built in 2004, Citizens Bank Park is a world-class, baseball only, stadium in southern Philadelphia, that acts as the home field for the Philadelphia Phillies franchise. In retrospect to the life-span of the Phillies, this ballpark is a new home and a breath of fresh air compared to where they had played previously. The stadium combines Philadelphia's rich tradition of sports architecture with unmistakably modern style. This 1.15 million square foot facility was built on a 21-acre site, in what is now known as the Philadelphia Sports Complex.
If you ever find yourself in Citizen's Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, you should stop by to see the statue of Harry Kalas. Harry Kalas was the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies, broadcasting their games for over 38 years. Sadly, Harry Kalas passed away in 2009, only a few months after watching the Phillies win the World Series in October of 2008. The statue serves as a permanent reminder of a great man and beloved part of the franchise. It is located within the stadium, behind Section 141 on the Main Concourse, near Harry the K's restaurant in Citizens Bank Park.
This statue honors the career of National Basketball Association (NBA) Hall of Fame member Julius "Dr. J" Erving. Erving's career began with the American Basketball Association's (ABA) Virginia Squires and New York Nets. Erving's talent helped to legitimize this second professional league which led to the merger of the ABA and the NBA. After the merger, Erving joined the Philadelphia 76ers and propelled that team to its greatest success. Erving was known for his high-flying, above-the-rim style of play and became the sixth-highest scoring player in NBA history. This statue was originally dedicated outside of the Spectrum Arena in Philadelphia in 1989. The statue was relocated to Xfinity Live! Philadelphia when the Spectrum was demolished in 2010.
Pennsylvania state historical marker placed at the former residence of the great African American activist, educator and sportsman Octavius V. Catto (1839-71). In addition to co-founding the Pythians baseball club of Philadelphia, one of the most successful and historically significant all-black teams of their time, Catto spearheaded the movement that led to the racial integration of streetcars in Philadelphia and worked to help African Americans gain the right to vote with the passage of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution in 1870. During a time of violent unrest shortly before the fall 1871 elections in Philadelphia, Catto was murdered in the street, a victim of a politically motivated assassination.
State historical marker placed at the former residence of the prominent African American educator, businessman, and baseball player Jacob C. White, Jr. (1837-1902). White, along with his friend Octavius Catto, founded the one of the city's most important all-black baseball clubs, the Pythians.
Located in the old Gershman Y Building, the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame provides the Community with tangible and lasting evidence of the past, present and future of Jewish sportsmen and sportswomen in the Philadelphia area and to instill Community pride in Jewish accomplishments in the field of sports and the role sports has played in preserving Jewish culture. It was founded in 1997.
The John C. Bell House stands at 229 S. 22nd Street and was constructed in 1906 as a single-family home. The 3-1/2-story neo-Georgian residence features Flemish bond brick with white marble trim. John C. Bell served as the Pennsylvania Attorney General (1911-1914). One of his sons, John C. Bell, Jr., later became the Lieutenant Governor (1943-1947) and then Governor of Pennsylvania (for a few weeks in 1947, when the acting Governor resigned near the end of his term to become a U.S. Senator), as well as member and Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (1950-1972). Another son of the original owner, Bert Bell, was a National Football League commissioner and co-founded the Philadelphia Eagles football team. The John C. Bell House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The building has been converted into and used as apartments since the 1940s.
Franklin Field lies in Philadelphia at the eastern edge of the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, across the Schuylkill River from Center City. The historic stadium dates back to 1895 when wooden bleachers for the Penn Relays, football matches, and other events were constructed. Demonstrating the rise of college football in the early 20th century, the stadium was dramatically expanded in 1922 to become the two-tiered stadium with the same brick arches one sees today. The NCAA has designated Franklin Field as the oldest college football stadium still in operation, and the stadium also holds the honor of being the first stadium to broadcast a football game over the radio. Aside from the Penn Relays and the University of Pennsylvania’s football team, the Philadelphia Eagles were tenants from 1958 to 1970. The Democratic Party, the band U2, and numerous features in movies and television shows add to Franklin Field's historic story.
Constructed in 1926 with its opening on New Years Day in 1927, this historic sporting venue is often referred to as "the Cathedral of College Basketball." The Palestra was one of the largest arenas in the world at the time of its opening and offered an innovative design that supported the roof without obstructive internal pillars. The area is the home to the University of Pennsylvania Quakers and owing to its longevity, has hosted more college basketball games than any other building. During the early years of college basketball, the Palestra was home to some of the best teams and hosted games of the Big 5 league which included Villanova, St. Joseph's, LaSalle, Temple, and the University of Pennsylvania. In 2000, the Palestra went under a $1.9 million dollar renovation.
The 72 stone steps before the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have become known as the "Rocky Steps" as a result of their appearance in the triple-Oscar-winning film Rocky and four of its sequels, Rocky II, III, V and Rocky Balboa, in which the eponymous character runs up the steps to the song "Gonna Fly Now". The statue of Philly boxer Rocky Balboa is located at the bottom of the stairs, and was created by A. Thomas Schomberg in1980. The Rocky Statue and the “Rocky Steps” are two of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia.
Former site of historic stadium that was home to the Philadelphia Stars of the Negro League from 1936-1952. Originally built in 1903 by the Pennsylvania Railroad company for their company football team. The stadium would go on to witness such feats as a 1936 Josh Gibson home run hit out of the stadium and a very eccentric Satchel Page no-hitter.
Known by several names, Penmar Park was a Philadelphia institution for nearly thirty years. Sources vary on the stadium’s actual date of construction, but it was most likely constructed between 1902 and 1903. Built by the Pennsylvania Railroad, the stadium was intended for use by the railroad’s Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). Apart from its planned use, the field hosted countless Negro Leagues games throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The park’s primary tenant was the Philadelphia Stars franchise, which was a member of first the Negro National League and later the Negro American League. The former park is noteworthy on several fronts. First among them are its connections with the now-legendary Negro Leagues. Vestiges of a bygone era, the Negro Leagues were the black answer to white hegemony in the National Pastime. They rostered star athletes in their own right, and their ability to enthrall the public was renowned; they appealed to both white and black fans alike. The other reason for this park’s notoriety is its connection with an industry which has seemingly little to do with baseball: the railroad industry. Indeed, the field was constructed and maintained by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), and the company thus had a significant hand in the field’s upkeep.
Located in Philadelphia’s West Parkside neighborhood, the Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park stands in the very spot where the Philadelphia Stars played their home games an Penmar Park. In addition to being the home of the Stars, the ballpark also served as the host to multiple Negro League World Series games in the 1930s and 1940s. The Memorial Park, which was made possible through the coming together of several parties including the MLB and City of Philadelphia in 2004, features a historical site marker, a mural, and a memorial statue.
The National League Park, better known as the “Baker Bowl”, holds great significance in the history of sport’s in the US. Of great note is the parks strange design compared to most ball parks. Much infamy also comes from the general poor quality of construction of the park, leading to multiple disastrous incidents and the eventual closing of the park. The park is further marred by the poor performance of its home team, the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite much negativity surrounding the park, it can still be fondly remembered for the 1915 World Series and its use by a number of other people for various sporting events.
The home gym of former Olympic Gold Medalist and World Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier. After he retired from boxing, Frazier used the gym to train fighters and provide an alternative to the dangers of the streets for local inner-city youths. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in April of 2013.
Philadelphia’s American League franchise opened in 1901 and in less than a decade grew more popular than the National League Phillies, leading Athletics owner Benjamin Franklin Shibe to open a new park at this location. Completed in 1909, Shibe Park became the home of the Philadelphia Athletics, the Phillies and the Eagles. This was also the site of numerous boxing matches, high school and college football games, and regular contests featuring Negro League baseball teams the Philadelphia Stars, the Hilldale Club, and the Bacharach Giants. After falling into disrepair, the stadium was demolished in 1976.
Erected in 1865, the Merion Cricket Club is one of the most well-known private sporting clubs in the United States, famous for both tradition and heritage, as well as its sophisticated taste (members abide by a dress policy). The club is now located in Haverford, Pennsylvania, having been moved locations in 5 other separate instances. Currently boasting a membership of 2,500 people, the club dates back to the end of the Civil War when it was established by William Montgomery and Marshall Ewing. Today, the institution is best-known for its luscious greenery and history as the original home of the U.S. Open and the home of the first cricket tournament in the United States. Encouraging participation in sports and other activities, the Merion Cricket Club has been an avid supporter of cricket, golf, squash, and tennis since its founding.
The Pavilion at Villanova University is home to the men's and women's basketball teams. It is used for other sports and recreational use for students. Great teams and players have played in the Pavilion where basketball has become the main attraction. Donors and Villanova alumni have gathered money to support for a renovation and rename the stadium to the Finneran Pavilion.
Comprised of two 18-hole courses, the East and West courses, the Merion Golf Club has hosted 18 United States Golf Association (USGA) championships, more than any other. The first course built on the site was created by the Merion Cricket Club in 1896. That course was replaced by the Hugh Wilson designed East Course in 1912 and the West course was added to the club in 1914. The East course is the more challenging of the two, has hosted all USGA championships, to include five U.S. Opens, and is thus, better known. The club is private and only open to members and their guests. The Merion Golf Club was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992.
Located in Derby, PA, Hilldale Park was the longtime home of the Hilldale Daisies. During the 1920s, the Hilldale Daisies were one of the most successful Negro League Clubs. Dominating the early Eastern Colored League, they won the pennant each of the league’s first three years. In addition to the Hilldale Daisies, other lesser known African American baseball teams also used Hilldale Park. One of the most notable sites in the ballpark was a large tree behind the centerfield fense that had branches extending over the fence.