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Local community engagement  /  Tournament Park

Tournament Park

Tournament Park is a historic park in Pasadena. It is a Caltech facility, open to the public during daylight hours and available for private gatherings by reservation.

The park offers picnic tables, a barbecue, a historical marker, and playground equipment. The parking lot is on the east side of Wilson Avenue south of California Boulevard. Information and forms related to reservations for private events in Tournament Park are provided by Caltech's Facilities Operations Department.

Tournament Park: Why the name?

In this park, more than a century ago, Pasadena residents promoted the city with midwinter events including the first eight matches in the annual tradition now called the Rose Bowl Games. In those years, the park stretched north to California Boulevard. Tournament Park acquired its name in 1900 and hosted the first Tournament of Roses football game in 1902. The New Year's Day matches continued to be held in Tournament Park through 1922. Major aviation events also took place in Tournament Park and are commemorated in a historical marker.

Tournament Park historical marker. The text reads (in all capital letters): Historical Site—Tournament Park. Official terminus of the first transcontinental airplane flight, Calbraith (Cal) Perry Rodgers took off from Sheepshead Bay New York September 17, 1911, landing here November 5, 1911. Earlier flights. Roy Knabenshue piloted his dirigible from here March 20, 1909. Charles Willard landed here in his airplane March 31, 1911.  Other early events. Balloon flights, horse races including chariot races, east-west football games, display of Tournament of Roses floats. Presented 1962 by Pasadena Pioneer Association and Pasadena Historical Society

Historical marker transcription with links to learn more:

Historical Site - Tournament Park
Official terminus of the first transcontinental airplane flight, Calbraith (Cal) Perry Rodgers took off from Sheepshead Bay New York September 17, 1911, landing here November 5, 1911.
Earlier flights
Roy Knabenshue piloted his dirigible from here March 20, 1909. Charles Willard landed here in his airplane March 31, 1911.
Other early events
Balloon flights, horse races including chariot races, East-West football games, display of Tournament of Roses floats.
Presented 1962 by Pasadena Pioneer Association and Pasadena Historical Society
A black and white photo shows a vast crowd seated around the empty field for the New Year's Day ,1921, University of California vs. Ohio State University bowl game, held at Tournament Park. Caltech's Throop Hall and other early campus buildings are visible in the background, in front of the hazy peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Tournament Park in 1921

Tournament Park once encompassed the nearby athletic fields and included the massive stadium shown in this photograph of one of the Tournament East-West football games (now called Rose Bowl Games) held there. The pictured game pitted the University of California against Ohio State University on New Year's Day, 1921.

Pilot Cal Rodgers and an unidentified man stand in front of Rodgers's biplane, marked with an advertisement for "Vin Fiz," with a crowd of onlookers in the background.
An aviation record

On November 5, 1911, Calbraith Perry (Cal) Rodgers (right) landed his biplane, the "Vin Fiz," in Tournament Park to achieve the first U.S. cross-country flight. It was anything but nonstop, with multiple crashes, at least 70 stops, and just a few parts remaining of the plane that set off from New York. Though Rodgers arrived in Pasadena weeks too late to claim a prize that had been offered for crossing the nation in 30 days, thousands of people came to the park to see and celebrate his achievement. He continued on to crash in Compton and land in Long Beach, flying from coast to coast.