Breaking Ground

In Architecture, History, Sports, Uncategorized, Yale on May 8, 2009 at 10:16 am


What were they building in 1913?





  1. The polo pony barns
  2. The tunnels for the Yale Bowl
  3. Barracks for ROTC
  4. Chemical weapons testing sheds


The tunnels for the Yale Bowl. 

Charles H. Ferry, 1871, designed the Yale Bowl to replace the 33,000-seat Yale Field, home of the football team since 1884.   Sperry Engineering Co. of New Haven began the project in August 1913, and constructing the portals was the first step.


Then they piled up more than 320,000 cubic feet of earth to form a bowl thirty feet high to support 22,000 cubic yards of concrete, 470 tons of steel and 30 miles of wooden seats, at an initial cost of $507,346.  A crew of 145 men worked full time to complete the Bowl in time for The Game against Harvard on November 21, 1914.

Yale-Harvard program cover

The Game drew a capacity crowd of 70,000.  Harvard won, 36-0, and the Yale Alumni Weekly commented: “Yale furnished the Bowl and Harvard provided the punch.”

With a capacity of 60,617, plus standing room, the Yale Bowl was the largest amphitheater built since the Roman Coliseum. yale bowlThe  Bowl was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.


Images courtesy Yale University Library Manuscripts and Archives and Yale University Athletics.


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