July 30 marks the 85th anniversary of the opening ceremony of the 10th Olympic Games, which introduced the world to Los Angeles (population 1.2 million in 1932).
A look back at those Games shows a glimpse of the success the city would like to repeat in 2024 or 2028.
The campaign to bring the Olympics to Los Angeles began in 1919. Once the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was open in 1923, the International Olympic Committee awarded the city the Games – the only city to bid. Los Angeles was relatively unknown to Europeans and, according to Paul Zimmerman, author of “Los Angeles the Olympic City, 1932, 1984,” a member of the IOC had to be told Los Angeles was a suburb of Hollywood to earn his vote.
By the opening ceremonies, the world was in the midst of the Great Depression, and several nations could not afford to field teams for the Games. The economic environment in 1932 kept President Herbert Hoover from traveling to Los Angeles, so Vice President Charles Curtis opened the Games.
A gym and a stable
Before the Olympics, the Coliseum was a football and track and field venue for USC and UCLA. During the Olympics, the stadium was the venue for field hockey, gymnastics and equestrian events as well as track and field. The Olympic Stadium featured a scoreboard that was 44 feet wide and operated from behind on three floor levels.
Automatic timing for track was used for the first time.
Other firsts for the 1932 Games included the use of a three-tiered podium, and the first Olympic Village. For the 1932 Olympics, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum expanded seating capacity from about 75,000 to an estimated 101,000-plus seats. The stadium was called the Olympic Stadium during the Games, which took place July 30 to Aug. 14, 1932. In 1984, the stadium became a state and federal historical landmark.
The Olympic Village was temporarily set on 321 acres in Baldwin Hills. The village was a series of two-bedroom bungalows for 1,206 male athletes and their support staff. Another side effect of the tough economic times was that visitors were charged $2 a night to stay in the village. The owner of the land, who leased the site for the village, insisted that no paving was to be done, so water trucks roamed the area to keep the dust down on miles of dirt roads. The bungalows were removed not long after the Games.
Female athletes stayed in the Chapman Park Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard.
Aerial view of the 1932 Olympic Village near the intersection of…