Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Demolition has started on a stadium best known for providing consistently unbearable cold and wind.
In a matter of months, San Francisco's Candlestick Park will finally come down. Demolition of the ballpark began earlier this week, and when the Bayview-Hunters Point site is cleared, work will begin on a new mixed-use development.
Originally built for Major League Baseball's Giants after the team relocated from New York City in 1958, the no-frills, boomerang-shaped facility opened just in time for Opening Day 1960. The land had been purchased by local contractor Charles Harney for $2,100 an acre in 1953, but Harney sold 41 acres back to the city just four years later for $65,853 an acre. The sale price turned out to be just one of many suspicious elements behind a deal Deadspin calls "a forerunner of the modern public financing con."
The ballpark itself became a problem almost immediately. The site offered a persistently cold and windy environment that only worsened at night, and the stadium's unique shape, designed by John Bolles, was of little help. Filling in the open areas of the stadium with new seating, when the NFL's 49ers arrived in 1971, didn't fix the problem. Candlestick Park did, however, withstand an earthquake during the 1989 World Series.
With no fix for the bitter cold and wind in reach, the Giants resorted to shrewd marketing. At one point the team sold the unbearable conditions as a badge of honor, rewarding fans with "Croix de Candelstick" pins containing the phrase "veni, vidi, vixi" (Latin for "I came, I saw, I survived").
In 2000, the Giants relocated closer to downtown and into a new ballpark regarded by baseball fans today as one of the very best. The 49ers moved into a new facility in Santa Clara last season. Plans to renovate and save Candlestick in the early 2000s never came to fruition.
Local real estate group Lennar Urban has plans for thousands of new housing units, an African diaspora-themed market and a "luxury outlet mall." Many Bayview-Hunters Point residents remain suspicious of how redevelopment will change the neighborhood.
Even the stadium's demolition process became a point of contention at one point. After first planning to implode the structure, Lennar eventually agreed to tear it down, reducing the likelihood of exposing residents to hazardous materials. Demolition is expected to take two months and a substantial amount of the redevelopment project is expected to be completed by early 2018.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly translated "veni, vidi, vixi" as "I came, I saw, I conquered."