Sports Architecture: The Parquet Floor at Old Boston Garden

With the Celtics making it to yet another NBA Finals, we thought we'd take a look at the iconic parquet floor at TD Garden.

The parquet was originally brought to the old Boston Garden by the original owner of the Celtics, Walter Brown. In an effort to attract the best players (and therefore more fans), he wanted their home court to have the best surface in the league.

Unfortunately there were materials shortages after World War II, so the Celtics had to improvise. They went to all of the local lumber yards across the Boston area and gathered scraps of oak of uneven lengths and widths. To best utilize these scraps, they decided to make five-foot-square panels, which were then bolted together.

In a flash of inspiration, they decided to alternate every other panel, making the distinctive parquet/herringbone pattern we all know today.

By making 247 individual panels, they had the added benefit of being able to replace damaged sections as necessary. Still, over the course of 50+ seasons of using the panels, there was a certain amount of wear and tear.

I remember legends of gaps in the flooring big enough to insert several quarters between boards. Imagine my delight in finding a contemporary photo illustrating this:

Rumor also had it that the Celtics' players knew all of the dead spots on the floor, where the ball would bounce unevenly (or not at all), and would direct opponents into those areas to force a steal. Celtics legend Bob Cousy refuted these legends:

This was important only because other teams believed it,'' Cousy says. ``Think about it, the dead spots. You're telling me that in a game as fast as basketball I could have the presence of mind to push someone over to the fifth board from the right because that's supposed to be a dead spot? Maybe in a slower game like baseball you could use that kind of local knowledge, but basketball? Come on.

The court at TD Garden today is not the original parquet, which was retired in 1999. But -- interesting fact: it is a replica parquet, again made out of oak. Which makes it the only court in the NBA that is not made out of hard maple.

Something to think about during the NBA finals.

1 comment

ksjdsd June 12, 2024

Leave a comment

Shop now

You can use this element to add a quote, content...