Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District (Flickr)

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Located in Exposition Park, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum holds national and international significance as the centerpiece of the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympic Games. Since the 1920s, it has served as the backdrop to countless sporting and civic events.

The Coliseum was originally constructed between 1921 and 1923 as a tribute to local World War I veterans. Renowned Southern California architects John and Donald Parkinson designed the monumental Moderne structure, incorporating elements of the Egyptian, Spanish, and Mediterranean Revival styles.  

The reinforced concrete, cast-in-place structure forms a colossal elliptical bowl. Evoking classical design elements, the east end of the stadium features a grand peristyle, which now contains the "Court of Honor" within the arches. The field was constructed thirty-two feet below grade and the terraced seating could originally accommodate 75,000 spectators. 

The University of Southern California (USC) football team played its first game in the Coliseum in October 1923, just five months after the stadium was completed. The university continues to lease the structure today.

The Coliseum has the rare distinction of being one of only a handful of National Historic Landmarks in Los Angeles. The structure is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources. 

State and local officials conceived the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as a hallmark of civic pride within the newly created Exposition Park. Since the early 1900s, efforts had been underway to redevelop the surrounding lands for public use. The Los Angeles Natural History Museum (1913) was one of the earliest facilities to be completed. 

The International Olympic Committee selected Los Angeles as the site for the 1932 Olympic Games in 1923, the same year that the Coliseum was completed. To accommodate larger crowds at the stadium, the City and County undertook an expansion project, bringing the total number of seats up to 101,000. John and Donald Parkinson returned as the project architects. 

The opening ceremony of the 1932 Olympics took place at the Coliseum, attracting a larger crowd than ever before. 

For the first time, athletes were housed within an Olympic Village, allowing more people to participate by reducing costs. Other rituals, such as the flying of the winning nations' flags and the incorporation of national anthems, debuted here, and numerous world records were set during the games themselves. 

The Olympics returned to Los Angeles in 1984, and the Coliseum became the first stadium to house the Summer Games twice. Much of the existing infrastructure throughout the city was reused, and the Coliseum once more hosted track and field events, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. 

 

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum represents Los Angeles' transformation from a small city into a major metropolis in the early twentieth century. The city's selection for the 1932 Olympics signaled its rising reputation within the United States, as well as the world at large. 

The grand structure is a masterwork of pioneering architects John and Donald Parkinson, who were responsible for shaping much of the city's urban fabric before World War II. An enduring civic monument, the stadium is one of their most significant architectural achievements and reinforced the firm's innovative position in the city's development. 

The Coliseum also reflects a number of major sporting achievements, beyond the Olympic Games. The stadium was the first home of the Dodgers after the baseball team moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958, and it hosted the country's first Super Bowl in January 1967. Other professional football and basketball teams have played in the facilities as well. 

In addition, the Coliseum hosted numerous political events, such as campaign rallies for Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhouwer. John F. Kennedy accepted the the nomination for president from the field during the 1960 Democratic National Convention. Other prominent public figures have drawn crowds to the Coliseum, including Charles. A. Lindbergh and Pope John Paul II. 

Brunswick Sands Bowl interior
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Brunswick Sands Bowl

The Sands Bowl's Googie-esque, Egyptian-themed design is a great example of a bowling center in the "California style," with cocktail lounge, sunken dining room, and exotic decor.