The stadiums built or rebuilt of concrete and steel during 1909-1939, after the days of the wooden ballpark, are now known as the classic/jewel box stadiums. These are said by many to embody the golden age of baseball. They are known for their green seats, large roofs, intimate feel, and major use of exposed steel, brick, and stone. Two-tiered grandstand decks supported by steel beams allowed for upper deck seating that was very close to the field. |The first of these stadiums was Shibe Park, which opened in 1909 in Philadelphia. Another Philadelphia ballpark, the Baker Bowl, which opened in 1895, used steel and brick instead of wood as the primary construction materials, and is considered the forerunner of the jewel box stadiums.
Two-tiered grandstands became much more prevalent in this era. These decks were typically held up by steel pillars that obstructed the view from some seats in the lower level. However, because of these supports, the upper decks could come very close to the field, giving the ballpark a more intimate feel. Two tiers was the standard for decades, until the New York Yankees built Yankee Stadium. To accommodate the large crowds Babe Ruth drew, Yankee Stadium was the largest ballpark in baseball, and was built with three tiers.
Most jewel box stadiums were built to fit the constraints of actual city blocks, resulting in asymmetrical outfield dimensions. Other sports, such as soccer and football were often played at these sites, but the dimensions of the stadium field and angles of the seats were clearly designed for baseball. By the late 1950s, due to the rise of football and the desire for newer architecture and conveniences, many cities started to build modern multi-purpose stadiums.