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Wrigley Field history: Bleacher construction in 1937

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A change of pace from current construction updates.

In Sunday’s Wrigley Field construction update, some of the photos showed the new construction in the left-field corner, near where the bleachers are also being extended.

Today, let’s have a look at the original bleacher construction project looking toward that left-field corner. That construction project lasted from July 5 to September 5, 1937:

... there are reports that the building continued even during games, with one report that a construction worker was hit by a home-run ball.

Interesting. The structure is nearing completion in the photo, and I would have guessed a late-August date, and I’ll reveal the exact date at the end of this article. The reason I’m posting this isn’t specifically the date, it’s to look at some of the other features visible in this photo, some of which you can still find outside Wrigley Field to this day, more than 81 years later.

The two buildings seen on Waveland still stand; the dark-colored one exists almost in exactly the same state as you see it here, as the owners of that building aren’t interested in a rooftop club. The daughter of the people who owned it back then now owns the building and she’s gone on record as saying she simply wants to be in the business of renting apartments. The lighter-colored building does have a rooftop club.

Further down the street, you can see a building at the northwest corner of Waveland and Clark Streets that still stands today.

You can also see railroad crossing gates across Waveland; freight trains ran through that area as far north as Foster Avenue in that era. Some of the remaining tracks were dug up on the triangle property when the Cubs were preparing it for construction of the current clubhouse and office building.

In the ballpark itself, you can see a scoreboard at field level in left field. That was the board you can see in this photo, which stood in center field for many years prior to the current board being constructed:

That board was moved to ground level in left field during construction — or, in reality, about half of it was, as you can see by the partial words on the back of the board (“EY FIELD OME OF GO CUBS”).

There’s also a good view of the seats in the left-field corner of the grandstand, which at the time were not angled to face home plate. That was changed the following year, as you can see from this aerial photo, which is dated July 11, 1938:

Getty Images

Look at all the cars parked on the land where the Hotel Zachary now stands. It was a different time.

Credit to the Twitter account @MLBCathedrals for the photo:

As you can see at the top of this photo, it was taken September 3, 1937 — just two days before the bleachers were opened for seating. My 2013 article, linked above, notes that portions of the then-new bleachers weren’t available for seating on September 5, opening later in the season.