Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The story behind our Riverside Stadium Skating Rink t-shirt

“For Health’s Sake – Skate”

Riverside Stadium, located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington D.C., was the epicenter of sporting events in the nation’s capitol throughout the 1940s and '50s. Originally opening as an open air arena, Riverside Stadium eventually grew to a 30,000 sq. ft. indoor showcase featuring practice areas at each end, a snack bar, and a wonderful westward view of the Potomac River.

There were other skating rinks in town such as the Uline Arena and the National Rink, however, roller skating was just the tip of the iceberg for Riverside. Here are but a few of the historic events Riverside Stadium played host to:

  • The DC Public Schools football championship was decided at Riverside annually.
  • Riverside Stadium was the home court for the Georgetown basketball team.
  • The magnificent Ice Follies made their Washington DC debut at Riverside.
  • In 1939, hockey made its debut in D.C. as the Washington Eagles of the East Coast Hockey League made Riverside Stadium their home.
  • In an April 23rd, 1940 boxing event at Riverside, Nathan Mann defeated Buck Everett, Maynard Daniels defeated Gunboat Miller, Jimmy Brock defeated Wildcat O’Hara, Buck Welsh defeated Brooks Bowen, and Sammy Magro defeated Gerald D’Elia.
  • A variety of renowned big band musical performances raised the roof at Riverside.

Riverside Stadium also proudly served as the training camp for Joe Louis as he prepared for Washington’s first heavyweight bout, held on May 23rd, 1941 at Griffith Stadium. Mr. Louis retained his title when Buddy Baer was disqualified at the beginning of the seventh round.

Riverside Stadium continued to provide a home at 26th & D for roller skaters and sports fans until the late 1950s under the operation of S. G. Leoffler. On a slightly bizarre note, Riverside Stadium is also reported to have been used as temporary offices for the CIA at the end of the 1950s.

Riverside Stadium came to an end in the early 1960s, demolished to make way for construction of the National Cultural Center, renamed in 1964 as the Kennedy Center following the assassination of President Kennedy.

If you have additional informaton or stories about Riverside Stadium we’d love to hear from you.

All text, additional images and this design, available for purchase, can be found at Vintage Roadside located here.


Lorri Lee Chambers said...

My mom has a case with a pair of the original skates in from the Riverside and some advertising for a show that took place there....we are going to be ebaying it ...

Anonymous said...

Betty and Louie Bergman were the managers of the roller rink for several years. Betty and Louie taught skating and lived in the apartments up the hill from the rink.

There was also a stable next door to the roller rink. It was called Riverside Stable. Gus was a groom.
The Edgewood stable was located across the street from Riverside Stable and was located next door to the brewery. i learned to skate and ride at Riverside rink and stable.

Anonymous said...

I have a team stick from 1940-41 season... There are actual autographs / picture stamps on the side of it and the blade says, Riverside Stadium ... It is hand painted.

Anonymous said...

My father attended the Corcoran School of Art in 1939-1940. He worked at a ice rink and I have photos of him on the ice in a rink attendee's uniform.