Exposition Park (Part II) – Memorial Coliseum

A fun fact about the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: it is the only stadium worldwide which was used twice to host the Olympic Games – in 1932 and 1984. Hard to imagine in a city like Los Angeles where razing buildings seems to be a popular sport, but there you are. In this case they didn’t (and now they can’t because it has been declared a National Historic Landmark).

Of course the stadium was overhauled, renovated and spruced up for the 1984 games. Part of this process was the erection of the “Olympic Gateway”:


This statue with two nude torsos, cast after the bodies of a male and female athlete taking part in the 1984 games, is the work of the sculptor Robert Graham, who died last year. The sculpture might have led to a minor scandal before the games even started, because the Atlanta (Ga.) Committee for the Olympic Games requested from the officials of the Coliseum to cover up the figures; the reason given was that television viewers might catch a glimpse of the figures and find them indecent.

A tip of the hat to the Coliseum officials – they issued a firm refusal and that was that. No scandal and no “Wrappers for Art” either. To this day the statues are in place, uncovered and a splendid  modern take on the Olympic games of old, where the Greek athletes competed in the nude.

3 thoughts on “Exposition Park (Part II) – Memorial Coliseum”

  1. Petra,

    You provide us with a nice tour of Los Angeles. I appreciate it very much.
    Love the rose garden.

    I never knew about the statues. TV viewers were obviously steered away from them – or my memory is bad and I just don’t remember them. 🙂

  2. I like the city. It has many flaws, not all is well here and certainly not pretty. But still – I love L.A., warts and all, because there are so many facets to it, so many delightful nooks and corners the outsider does not see. The usual tourist route of Walk of Fame, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Universal Studios and Santa Monica does not leave time for the visitor to explore less well trodden paths.

    That is what made me start the blog – just pointing here and there, saying “this is worth visiting, that is delightful and this here is a spot only Angelenos know.” We explore our city, we treat it like a treasure trove, finding little gems every time we go on our city expeditions (very, very often walking for hours on end).

    Los Angeles is more than Hollywood, freeways and suburbs. It is vibrantly alive, always in danger of losing against developers and political opportunists, fought for and preserved by people who care about art and architecture, filled with the old and the new, a melting pot with many of areas where mixing is frowned upon, a city full of deep contradictions and the one place where I look around and say “yes, I love it.” Even though it is far from perfect.

    As to the statues – it is easily explained why you probably never saw them. I remember very much the guy with the “rocket bag pack” or the moving staircase reaching up to the Olympic fire, but all that was something that happened inside the Coliseum. That’s where the action was, not outside. No cameras there, as simple as that. (Even today visitors enter the stadium from the side entrances, not through the main arch.)

  3. You are the perfect antidote to all the detractors of LA. I should have put the son onto your blog before he moved. I think he would have liked to prowl some of these places you blog about. Or, maybe he would have just hung out on the beach anyway.

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