Harvard Stadium

Capacity30 323
Country United States of America
CityBoston
ClubsHarvard Crimson
Inauguration 14/11/1903
Construction 07/1903 - 11/1903
Renovations 1929, 1951, 1984, 1998, 2006
Cost $310,000 (1903)
Design McKim, Charles F., Prof. Louis J. Johnson
Address 95 N Harvard St, Boston, MA 02134

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Description: Harvard Stadium

Built in just 4.5 months (!), this Boston-based stadium was the first academic stadium in the USA. Having been built shortly after the first modern Olympics (1896), the building was largely inspired by the Greek Panathinaiko Stadium and also by Roman amphitheaters.

What’s not visually striking is the stadium’s reinforced concrete structure. It was here that vertical reinforced concrete elements were used, previously only known from horizontal use. Its engineering and architectural significance, aided by how little the building had changed over the years, earned it a National Historic Landmark status in 1987.

Built in a horseshoe shape the stadium witnessed several different attempts to fill the empty northern end. In the first years trapezoidal wooden stands were erected, later torn down. In 1929 new steel stands were built, matching those already standing in terms of height. This is when the stadium reached the capacity peak of over 57,000 people. However, there wasn’t sufficient demand and the steel structure began deteriorating, resulting in its demolition in 1951. Then again smaller trapezoidal stands were erected, this time ending life by 1998, when the Murr Center indoor hall was built.

Alterations done to the initial stadium were very small. Even floodlight installation in 2006 went fairly unnoticed visually as lights were spread atop existing walls. Also in 2006 the ivy covering external walls was permanently removed. Changes to the field were greater as the previous running track was removed in 1980s.

Sporting use of the stadium was primarily provided by the Harvard University Crimson American football section. The team played nearly 1,000 games there since 1903. While not many, there were also some association football (soccer) games played here, most notably 6 group fixtures of the 1984 Olympics, each with an average crowd of 22,000.

Aside of sports the stadium played host to a variety of festivals and concerts (to name just Bob Marley and Janis Joplin). It was also partly converted into a Greek amphitheater in 1905.

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