Three balconies similar to these will be incorporated into Heritage Field. (Photo via Demolition of Yankee Stadium)
Early last week, crews at work on the southwest side of 161st St. and River Ave. pulled down Gate 2 at old Yankee Stadium. The long-time target of historians and preservationists, Gate 2 was believed to be the oldest, untouched, original part of the 1923 Yankee Stadium still standing, and although the Yankees originally promised to include part of the old stadium in the Heritage Field park plans, the Parks Department opted not to.
When the gate came down, I thought we had lost a part of baseball history for good, but the Daily News today reports otherwise. According to Larry McShane, three original balconies from Gate 2 may be a part of Heritage Field. Two of the three sustained just minimal damage during the destruction of old Yankee Stadium last week, and the other was heavily damaged. The Parks Department, prompted by the Committee to Commemorate Old Yankee Stadium, opted to salvage them and will work to restore these historic balconies which feature terra cotta medallions of the interlocking NY.
“We are currently exploring the possibility of incorporating the balconies into our landscape plan for Heritage Field, where they could be identified as part of our overall package of interpretive elements,” Joshua Laird of the Parks Department said in a letter. “Although no final decisions have been made, we want to be clear that we will make every effort to find appropriate locations to display these items, whether within the park, or off-site at a museum.”
For baseball historians and those who feel New York City too easily discards its rich history, this move is but a small victory. When the Yanks gained original approval for the new stadium, the city’s park plans were significantly more robust. The city originally said it would use, according to a 2005 Times article, the “baseball field, the dugouts and the first level of the stands for Little League and high school use.” Now, we know that will not come to pass, but a part of old Yankee Stadium will live in after all.