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Public Works

by John Parsley

Shea Stadium on its final game day

On game-day 7-train rides, Shea Stadium appears through the trees like a blue ghost ship. It closed its doors for the last time on Sunday, September 28, 2008 and is scheduled for demolition 15 days after the game. Shea opened in April 1964 after an October 28, 1961 groundbreaking in Queens, New York. In addition to the New York Mets, Shea hosted the first New York Jets football game, two seasons of the Yankees in the '70s, and major events ranging from Pope John Paul II and Billy Graham to the Beatles, the Stones, the Police, the Boss, and Billy Joel.

But more than merely a site for events, Shea was part of the city's fabric. A major September 11th relief center, a cure for heartsickness after the Dodgers and Giants moved west, a lovably frustrating building, it was the home of a team with whom the city has shared its failures and triumphs.

In six months, Shea will be a parking lot. Mets fans may get used to the Mets' new ballpark quickly, with its wealth of amenities, its aesthetic beauty, and its singular role as the home of the home team. But along with 56,058 others, our editor visited it one last time to roam around in what has always been a pretty big place to fill.

On the day of the final baseball game at Shea, work continues off the field as it does on.

After a short burst of orange and blue pyrotechnics, the stadium's closing ceremony concludes.

The top of Shea's famous 80-ton scoreboard, one of the largest in the Major Leagues, is crowned by a neon city skyline.

Shea's "ring of lights" along the top of the stadium was the first in the Majors; previously, stands of light towers ushered in night games.

The stadium contains 24 ramps, 21 escalators, over 50 bathrooms (though seemingly never enough), and has a baseball seating capacity of 55,601.

The original 1960s exteriors, which can be seen in the movie The Wiz, were replaced in the 1980s when neon ballplayers were added to the facade. Here, Gate B's catcher lights a post-game puddle.

Shea's four tiers, emptied out after the closing ceremonies, before the lights go out. Shea's seats have been sold for over $800 per pair; orange and blue seats, in the Mets' colors, have already sold out. Stadium fixtures like faucets will be used throughout the city by the Parks Department. Home plate will become another piece of memorabilia; a new plate will be used in the new stadium.

The majority of Mets fans come via the subway's famed 7 line; a still-lit Shea peeks through the reflections one last time.

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Articles in this Issue

Jan Michael-Vincent, by Alan Huffman
Jenkins Pet and Supply, by Sean Lanigan
Pax, Ishango, by Maureen Duffy
The Extinction of Vancouver's Crested Mynahs, by Wayne Grady
Fine Art, by David Arthur-Simons
Maritime History, by Andrea Curtis
Public Works, by John Parsley
September 2008


John Parsley is the Editorial Director of LOST.

Where loss is found.

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