Sports Temples of Boston:

About The Sports Temples of Boston

Brighton, Massachusetts
ca. 1960

Welcome to Sports Temples 2.0 (Beta)!

When we first launched the Sports Temples of Boston online collection in 2003, we could scarcely predict the enthusiastic response it would produce. It has remained one of the most-used digital resources developed by BPL staff. Local historians, writers, researchers, and sports fans alike have found an abundance of material here to fuel their enthusiasm. We are delighted to announce the relaunch of Sports Temples in a more dynamic, detailed, and usable interface.

Some of the key improvements from version 1.0:

I hope you will enjoy the new face we've put on Sports Temples. This release is a completely usable interface, but it is still in beta. That means that we'll continue to improve access to this collection based on your feedback, so please email any suggestions you have about the site to Any questions about the physical collections or reproductions should still be addressed to the Print Department of the Central Library.

-Scot Colford, Online and Web Services Manager, August 2009

A Note from the Curator

Boston has a rich history in many areas including government, culture and of course, sports! Some of the greatest victories, most accomplished athletes and exciting teams have made history in Boston. From the earliest days of the colony, sports have been a part of the social fabric. And by the 19th century, the playing of sports was an accepted part of life as more sports became with local sports clubs being founded and professional leagues formed.

As sports grew in popularity, venues were built where the games could be played. In 1872, the first baseball park in Boston was built in the South End. It was the first building built specifically for the viewing of sporting events. Fans could now sit and watch the game from grandstand seats and the team could charge a small admission fee.

Over time more elaborate buildings were erected for the playing and watching of sports and at the dawn of the 20th century, sports had become a sort of religion with a devoted and loyal following (the word fan is short for fanatic). The ballparks, arenas, stadiums and racetracks where sports were regularly played became centers of the community and social life of Boston. Older 19th century buildings like the Cyclorama in the South End and Mechanics Hall on Huntington Avenue which had been built for other purposes, became important temples for the worship of sports. Buildings such as the Boston Garden were built for a variety of major events, but sports were the center and soul of their purpose.

Many of these sports temples no longer exist. Thanks to the diligent care of the many participating institutions, these images survive to provide evidence of the great events and great happenings experienced by so many fans and athletes over the years in Boston’s Sports Temples.

It is our hope that this assortment of images will provide enjoyment to sports fans of all ages, as well as serve as a useful resource for historical, societal and architectural research. Think of it as a virtual scrapbook, filled with the memories of a hundred years of Boston sports.

Boston Public Library Collections Represented in the Sports Temples of Boston:

The Central Library’s research collection is made up of many smaller collections housed in different departments. For information on the collections represented, click on the links below.


Thanks to BPL Staff
Completing the Sports Temples of Boston website was a team effort. The following BPL staff helped the project cross the finish line:
Jan Chadbourne, Fine Arts Department; Mary Beth Dunhouse, Special Collections; Bobbie Zonghi, Rare Books Department; John Dorsey, Research Library; Katherine Dibble, Mary Frances O’Brien and Cindy Phillips, Community Library Services Office; Carolyn Coulter, Jean Antoine , Systems & Services; Ed Maheigan and Diane Collins, Business Office; Sean Monahan, Accounting; Jennifer Latchford and Kathleen Kirleis, President’s Office; Cate Zannino, Mary Bender and Camille White, Communications Office; Marta Pardee-King, Social Sciences; Jane Duggan, Print Department.

Participating Institutions
The participation of the contributing institutions greatly enhanced the richness and comprehensiveness of the project. We would like to thank the following people for their effort and time in searching their collections for great images and helping us add them to the project:
Sally Pierce, Catharina Slautterback and Lina Coffey, The Boston Athenaeum; Nancy Richard and Anne Vosikas, The Bostonian Society; Dick Johnson, New England Sports Museum; Lorna Condon, Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities; Betsy Lowenstein, State Library of Massachusetts; Nicholas Graham, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Special Thanks
Many people contributed their knowledge and expertise during the course of the project. A special thanks go out to the following people:
Mel Klayman; P.A. d’Arbeloff; Glenn Stout; Gregor Trinkaus-Randall; Walter Barrett, Jr.; Jennifer Goold.

If you have additional questions, comments or if you are searching for a particular topic of photo, please feel free to e-mail your question or comment about the Sports Temples of Boston.

Sports Temples of Boston: Images of Historic Ballparks, Arenas and Stadiums, 1872-1972
has been made possible through a Library Services and Technology Act grant
administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.