West Side Park #1, Chicago Base Ball Grounds
Life Span: 1885-1891
Location: Congress, Harrison, Throop, and Loomis streets
Lake Front Park was expanded after the 1882 season and remained the White Stockings’ home until they moved to West Side Park in 1885, but not before they won championships in 1880, 1881 and 1882.
Dimensions of first West Side Park
- Left Field – 216 ft (1 ft. over then-legal minimum)
Center Field – Unknown
Right Field – 216 ft (1 ft. over then-legal minimum)
Chicago Tribune, February 25, 1885
The New Base-Ball Grounds—A Promise That None Will Be Finer.
The question of securing advantageously located and roomy grounds for the use of the league nines in Chicago during the coming season has at last been settled. The Chicago Club will be enabled to exhibit to visiting nines the most perfectly appointed and centrally located grounds in the country. After many vexatious delays the club has secured a five-years’ lease of the block bounded by Congress, Harrison, Throop, and Loomis streets. The block has frontage of 660 feet on Congress street and 400 feet on Loomis street, and is at present unoccupied save for a little one-story cottage, which will be removed from its present site within the next few days. The Van Buren street cars pass within a block of the grounds, and the Madison street and Ogden avenue cars within five blocks.
In speaking of the new grounds Mr. Spalding said:
- The club bas bad its attention drawn to a number of locations, but only two of these outside of that which we have secured received any special consideration. The old Union grounds at the corner of Thirty-ninth street and Wabash avenue, were thought of, but their distance from the business centre and the fact of their being inaccessible by North and West Side street-car lines proved a very serious objection. Grounds on the North Side, located wear the lake-front, at the foot of Ohio street, were examined, but were found too small, and the transportation facilities would have proven inadequate. Taken all in all. I think the selection the best that could have been made, for it is located near the centre of the West Side, which contains a larger population than the North and South Sides combined, and the transportation facilities are excellent. No pains or expense will be spared to make these the finest base-ball and athletic grounds in America. Instead of the unsightly board fence which usually incloses base-ball grounds, a substantial, stone-capped brick wall twelve feet in bight will be constructed, to extend entirely around the grounds. No other grounds in America will be so substantially protected, the celebrated Lord’s grounds in London, located in the very centre of the finest residence portion of that city, being the only other so inclosed. The grand stand will be built in the form of a semicircle at the west end of the grounds, the roof to be supported by trusses.
Private boxes will be placed on the roof along the entire front of the stand, where provision will be made for the press, officers, etc. The open seats will be placed on each side of the grand stand, which will seat about 2,500 peo-ple, and the side seats 5,000. The ticket offices, business office, and visiting players’ dressing-rooms will be built of brick, and located just in the rear of the grand stand. The clubhouse and players’ dressing-rooms will also be of brick, and will be placed the extreme at eastern end of the grounds. Further than this, the management is contemplating building several club-houses and dressing-rooms at the eastern end of the grounds for the use of cricket clubs, bicycle clubs, lacrosse clubs, foot-ball clubs, and other kindred organizations desiring to use the grounds for practice and exhibitions. It is also likely that a first-class bicycle track will be constructed around the outer edge of the inclosure.
The surface will be graded and seeded down or sodded and tile-drained, and every effort will be put forth to make the grounds what they should be. The great length of the grounds will permit the admission of vehicles, and spectators who so desire may witness the games from their carriages. The box-office and. main entrance will probably be located in the northwest corner of the grounds, at Looms and Congress streets, and the carriage entrances on Congress and Harrison streets, near the east end. There will be no Sunday games permitted, and no liquor or beer will be sold at any of the exhibitions.
Neither will open betting nor pool-selling be tolerated in any form, for it is the intention to make the new Chicago ball-grounds worthy the encouragement and patronage of the better class of people who may desire to witness the many kinds of field sports which will take place there.
Inquiry among the players and patrons of the game in Chicago show them to be highly pleased with the selection.
Inter Ocean, April 26, 1885
The New Grounds.
An army of carpenters with hammers, saws, and planes thronged over the west end of the new base ball park yesterday morning, and before nightfall the grand stand was a little nearer completion. The men work with an activity which is wonderful. The lot is amply large and extends east from Throop to Loomis street, and south from Congress to Harrison. A few months ago it was a small lake, and above its shallow waters there appeared hardy rutabago stumps and amputated corn-stalks. Now the waters have been drained off, a neat brick wall surrounds the grounds, and it has arrived at that stage when it is just half way between a cabbage patch and a ball field. The grounds are not suited for a ball park, as they are fully three feet below the street level Manager Spalding says that no effort will be made to fill in, but that a complete system of drainage pipes will be used instead.The diamond will be raised and will slope from the center. The grounds will be in shape for playing on June 1, when the St. Louis and Chicago clubs will open the new grounds. On the right is a diagram of the grounds.
Inter Ocean, June 6, 1885
CHICAGO’S NEW PARK.
The Opening To-Day.
The new grounds of the Chicago Base Ball Clab will be opened this afternoon for base ball, and the occasion will be made a gala event, the park being dedicated by the opening of the league season in this city, the Chicago’s playing with the St. Louis club. The management are sparing no efforts to make it a memorable occasion. Austin’s First Regiment Band will provide the music. Handsome souvenirs appropriate to the event will be presented to each lady attending. Mayor Harrison and other city officials will be present, as well as the clergy and the elite of the city who have been invited to grace the opening of finest base ball park in America.
The new grounds are located on the block bounded by Harrison, Loomis, Congress, and Throop streets. The locality is a favorite residence district and there are no saloons in the neighborhood. The Van Buren street bars transport passengers within one block of the gates in twenty minutes from State street. In size and general equipment the park is without doubt the finest in the country. In selecting the site particular care was exercised in providing for the tall development of the game. The inclosure is 400 feet wide by 660 feet in length, so that ample space is avalable for all purposes of batting and fielding. The grounds are surrounded by a ten-foot brick wall, in which 500.000 brick were used. A splendid bicycle track extends around the park a quarter of a mile circumference. The ball-field surface is an unbroken level, excepting that the diamond is raised in the center and slopes off in every direction, thus insuring rapid drainage in the event of rain. The diamond is sodded, and is absolutely, free from inequalities, and the runways, being constructed on an improved plan and being impervious to water, are perfection itself.
The seating capacity is generous, the open seats being capable of accommodating 3,000 people, and the grand stand 2,500 seats. There is ample carriage room at the east end of the park. The grand stand is built free from posts, so that every seat affords an unobstructed view of the park. The seats are unusually comfortable, even without the ever-desirable cushion. There is a row of boxes just above the grand stand lettered from A to L, in which are comfortable chairs, The whole is handsomely painted inside and out, and presents an attractive view. The club and dressing rooms are located in the north. east corner of the park, and are fitted with every convenience.
The ticket office is a neat, two-story brick structure, at the corner of Loomis and Congress streets. The total cost of fitting up this park has been $30,000, and in the opinion of all who have seen it the money has been well invested.
1885 West Side Park Opening Day Program
West Side Park
Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide, 1889
Chicago Baseball Grounds (West Side Park #1)