Music - Fire on high by the Electric Light Orchestra
DISCLAIMER - Photos WITHOUT my watermark are not mine and were found on the internet and ARE NOT FOR SALE.
Philadelphia Arena - Opened in 1920 and closed in 1983. The building was destroyed by an arson fire on August 24, 1983. It was leveled shortly thereafter. The lot sat vacant for almost 25 years before housing was finally built on the site. Known as the Philadelphia Ice Palace and Auditorium from 1920 - 1925, Philadelphia Arena from 1925 - 1980, Martin Luther King Arena 1980 - 1983.
Location - 4530 Market Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
There are VERY few photos of the arena.
The Philadelphia Ice Palace and Auditorium was located at 4530 Market Street, just west of downtown Philadelphia. Most people called it the Philadelphia Arena. It was located next to what would become the WFIL television studios. You would know it better as the place where Dick Clark hosted American Bandstand.
The arena opened on February 14, 1920, and two nights later, the first ever event was held. It was a college hockey game between the Yale Bulldogs and the Princeton Tigers. For the record, Yale won 4-0, with a crowd of over 4,000 in attendance.
The arena saw a few historic sporting events during it's life. It saw the professional ice debut of Sonja Heine, and Roy Rogers performed in his first rodeo there in 1943. Rogers played the arena every season for more than 20 years after that.
Pro sports was also played under the roof. The Philadelphia Quakers of the NHL played there in 1930-1931. It was their only season in the NHL. The Philadelphia Warriors used the arena as their main court from 1946 thru 1952, the on and off again thru 1962. It also served as a part time home for the Philadelphia 76ers from 1963 thru 1967.
The arena was also known as a major venue for boxing and wrestling before the Spectrum opened. Boxing greats such as Gene Tunney, Sugar Ray Robinson and heavyweight champion Joe Frazier fought under the arena roof.
Once the Spectrum opened in 1967, the Arena became a relic from a bygone era. Along with Convention Hall, the Arena saw less and less events. In 1977, the arena was auctioned off and renamed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.
On the night of August 24, 1983, the old arena was gutted by arson. After the fire cooled, what was left was demolished. The lot has remained vacant for years. When I was there in 2005, it was used as a storage lot for vans and trucks for the city of Philadelphia.
If you drive down Market Street now, you probably wouldn't even know an arena was there at one time. No marker has been placed at the site letting people know what once stood there.
One of the FEW pictures of the old arena. This would be facing Market Street. Photo from internet, date unknown.
The vacant lot of the old Philadelphia Arena. You can see the television station to the right. That is where American Bandstand was filmed. 9/91
Another view of the vacant lot of the Philadelphia arena. Trash and debris litter the site now. 9/91
This is the Market-Frankford line of SEPTA that ran right by the old Philadelphia Arena. 9/91
Asphalt builds up on the old arena site. 9/91
It's 14 years later and nothing is built on the old arena lot. 5/05
This shot is from 2005, in 2007 housing was built on the old Philadelphia arena site.