CityDig: World War II Forced the Rose Bowl Game to Relocate

This 1941 map shows the stadium in the only year it wasn’t filled

All eyes were on Pasadena and the glorious Rose Bowl last Friday, where, since 1923, the “Granddaddy of Them All” game has been played every year—except one. This map of Crown City harkens back to October 1941, when the Rose Bowl game was heading into its 28th year. The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, however, plunged the nation into World War II, and the federal government prohibited large public gatherings on the West Coast. The parade and football game were relocated to Durham, North Carolina, where undefeated Duke battled (and lost to) underdog Oregon State.

Pasadena Map and Street Index, Pasadena - First National Bank, John L. Lynde - cartographer, 1941
Pasadena Map and Street Index, Pasadena – First National Bank, John L. Lynde – cartographer, 1941

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This excellent rendering of Pasadena by John L. Lynde shows the entire region from the Sierra Madre Mountains to South Pasadena and San Marino. Visible are both the Rose Bowl stadium and Tournament Park, where the first Rose Bowl game—originally known as the Tournament East-West football game—was played. In the 1902 game that began it all, the bedraggled Stanford team threw in the towel in the third quarter after the Michigan Wolverines—the national champions—crushed them, 49-zip. After the rout, tournament officials decided to bring back the ostrich and chariot races that had served as post-parade amusement since event’s inception by the Pasadena Hunt Club in 1890. The newly christened Rose Bowl game did not return until 1916, when the State College of Washington beat Brown—the first and last time the Bears appeared in the game.

As the popularity of both the parade and game grew, officials planned to build a large horseshoe-shaped stadium in the Arroyo. Patterned after the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, the Myron Hunt-designed stadium was completed in 1922. In 1923 (the same year the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was completed) it was formally named the Rose Bowl. That year, USC defeated Penn State after the Nittany Lions got stuck in Rose Bowl traffic and arrived an hour late.

Los Angeles Public Library map librarian Glen Creason shares a map from the Central Library’s collection at CityThink each week.