Bob Kuska wrote:Jon - Sorry to be so late on this post. Your photos are fantastic. But are you focusing strictly on municipal facilities? Pro basketball, of course, got its start in dance halls and other creative, fly-by-night venues. This is an important point because the lack of cookie-cutter facilities in the first half of the 20th century had a profound effect on basketball's evolution, from the cages to the first jump shots to slippery floors leading to the first zone defenses and fastbreaks. If that's not where you want to go, no problem. But it might be nice to pull it all together.
If you follow the link, you'll see that there are many early examples where basketball was played in relatively strange places. YMCA's was a common place at the time along with early college gymnasiums (typically those were small and designed primarily for gymnastics, often with a running track suspended above). But there were also games held in churches, in roller skating rinks, in auditoriums designed more for concerts, in places designed primarily for livestock shows etc.http://www.bigbluehistory.net/bb/arenas.html
I know that around the turn of the century roller rinks were oftentimes used, presumably because they already had an appropriate surface for basketball (some places at the time still had dirt floors). There was one in Danville KY (called "The Rink") that Kentucky played against Central University (now Centre College) a number of times. There was also a game that according to advertisements in the newspaper UK was supposed to play in Lexington at a place called Mammoth Rink but I never found evidence of the game actually taking place. Typically one could buy a ticket to the game and be able to skate afterwards. (similar to the Dance Halls you mention for pro basketball, where oftentimes there was a dance held immediately after the game.)Advertisement for "The Rink" in Danville KY noting that there will be skating both before and after the basketball gameLink to Full Graphic
More recently, the Hippodrome in Nashville was a place that UK played Vanderbilt many times in the 1930's and 40's and it was primarily a roller rink.
As far as the comment about the lack of regulation of the courts, facilities etc. having an impact on the development of the game is exactly right. I know especially around the turn of the century there was often talk of irregularities of the court impacting the game. From low ceilings, to beams on the court itself that people had to avoid, to irregular courts etc. I'm not sure exactly when but I don't think it was until sometime in the 1920's that the size of the court itself was regulated.
There's also the story of the conference tournament held in Atlanta where a temporary elevated floor was placed in the Atlanta Auditorium (at stage height). During one game, a Kentucky player was reportedly driving down the court for a layup and put so much weight on the floor that he opened a hole in the floor.Atlanta Municipal Auditorium
- For basketball games the chairs in the center were removed and an elevated floor was added at stage height.(I have yet to find a photo showing this setup for basketball but it's easy to imagine from the photo above)
Another aspect of early gymnasiums was the lack of central heating or lighting. Instead large pot-bellied stoves were placed near the court along with gas-fired globes for lighting. These posed particular hazards for the players, with reports of burns or the shattering of light fixtures common at the time.
FWIW, I haven't seen anything mentioned about the use of cages in college basketball like you hear about in urban pro basketball arenas. The below photo shows a netting that was constructed at Michigan State's Demonstration Hall, but more often the crowd was not physically restrained from the court.Michigan State's Demonstration Hall