Anyone who’s been to Citi Field or have even heard about it are probably familiar with it’s rotunda, loosely based on the one from Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, and constantly a matter of debate regarding it’s homage to Jackie Robinson (“he never played for the Mets!” “Wilpon’s a Dodger shill” “Why not the Seaver rotunda?” etc.) – in any event, it’s been well publicized and well photographed, and any Google search will bring up a flood of Citi rotunda photos.
But what of the rotunda that inspired it? Surely among the millions of folks that streamed through the Ebbets Field rotunda gates, more than a few were toting a camera, and were able to snap a pic or two of the classic entrance to one of the legendary baseball parks of all time. Or so one would think.
In reality, interior photos of the classic parks are exceedingly rare. Unlike today, no one really had no interest in the largely dark, dank recesses of the old stadiums, and were more in a hurry to get into the sunlight to watch some actual baseball. Film wasn’t exactly cheap, and those who had the wherewithall to bring a camera back then weren’t about to waste it snapping a photo of some dimly lit corner or walkway, they were going to save it for Duke Snider, or at least a photo of the playing field.
So, the result is, there are only a select few photos of the Ebbets Field rotunda that are publicly known. In fact, I believe there are currently only three:
The first one is the most common, from 1949, and is the one that pops up in a typical online image search. It also has the clearest view of the unique “baseball” chandelier that hung from the ceiling. Also, the words EBBETS FIELD can be seen surrounding a printed baseball on the floor of the rotunda. Oddly enough, the other prominent item in the photo is a display for football games to be played that fall, at Yankee Stadium (the team played at Ebbets in earlier seasons, so perhaps they felt obliged to keep selling tickets for them)!
Here is a design for that chandelier that was printed in the Brooklyn Eagle when Ebbets was in the planning stages:
And, then, here are the other two – this one at least shows a few fans passing through the portals into the stadium itself.
The third was just recently discovered, and likely from an architectural digest or booklet of some sort. It allows us another view of that funky chandelier, and even a bonus shot of Ebbets Field offices as well.
There’s sort of a fourth, taken on Ebbets last day by the New York Times, but all we see is a plaque that supposedly was hanging in the rotunda. Entire article from the NYT shown (click on photo for link to larger pic of article).
We DO have a nice photo of the original plan of the rotunda, and yep, seems to match up with what was built:
Also, we have a rare view of the walls of the rotunda, from beyond the rotunda doors in the “bowels” of the stadium. From a LIFE magazine Charley Neal photo shoot from 1956 – see the curved walls to the right – the doors underneath the “Next Game Dodgers vs” sign lead into the rotunda, through where the fans are passing through in one of the previous photos.
So, as a classic ballparks fan, here is your assignment: To somehow find the elusive FOURTH photo of the Ebbets Field rotunda, in order to further our knowledge on this rarest of circular entries. As Ebbets was torn down over 50 years ago, folks who actually walked through it are getting older, and finding more photos may be our only hope!