At the end of the 2008 Major League Baseball season, Shea Stadium closed its doors for the last time.
From the grass the players ran on, to the seats the fans occupied, everything was either destroyed or sold as the Mets prepared to open the doors to a brand new home, much like their crosstown rivals, the Yankees.. Today the new ballparks, Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium, loom over the sites of their predecessors.
But a new photo exhibit by the Greater Astoria Historical Society (GAHS) of the old stadiums’ demolition is giving fans a chance to revisit the fields that were havens for generations of fans.
“This exhibit is dedicated to two stadiums that were torn down in rapid succession,” said Bob Singleton, executive director of the GAHS. “Their demolition removed our physical connections to them, but their vivid memories will remain in the balance of our lives.”
The exhibit will run in the gallery of the GAHS in Long Island City until mid-September. Gallery hours are Monday and Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon until 5 p.m. The exhibition is the work of photographers Rich Scarpitta, Steve Spak and Rob Yasinsac.
“Far more than just bricks and rebar, they became a place of legend and myth, where the human experience was played out within their confines,” Singleton said. “To some they were hallowed ground. Watching giant machinery delicately pick apart the rubble was akin to witnessing a Jurassic ballet.”
Although the demolition was significant for fans, Singleton said it also held special meaning for the photographers and construction workers at the sites.
“Those who were a part of that experience were fully cognizant that they were witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Singleton said. “For the demo men, photographers, and the curious public alike, these extraordinary places etched something unforgettable into their souls one last time.”
The exhibit also seeks to represent the cycle of life and death, which the stadium’s construction taught current fans.
“In the wings awaits a new generation and memories yet to be made,” Singleton said.