McKinley Park, Brighton Trotting Park (1855), Brighton Park (1861)
Life Span: About 1902-Present
Location: Leavitt Street and Western Avenue, and Thirty-seventh Street and Thirty-ninth Street.
Chicago Tribune, June 20, 1855
TROTTING RACES.—The first trotting races on the new track at Brighton, commenced at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, and are to be continued for the week. The “fast” men and horses about town will enjoy themselves amazingly.—The Brighton House, under the auspices of Mr. Miner, is flourishing and full of business, and every thing looks neat and new as a pin. The stables and yards are comfortable, and the grazing in the vicinity excellent. This is likely to become a favorite market for cattle drovers, and it appears to us might do well enough without the race ground attached. But every one to his liking. The ground is easily reached by carriages going South on Canal st., West Side, to Harrison, west on Harrison to the Blue Island Plank road, which goes south-west to Brighton, leaving Bridgeport to the left. Distance five and a half miles.
Brighton Trotting Park
Currently McKinley Park
Chicago Tribune, July 19, 1861
THE ILLINOIS STATE FAIR.
Preparations at the Grounds.
Already, under the vigorous management of Supt. Derby, considerable progress has been made in the preparation for holding the State Fair at Brighton. It is now eight weeks or more before the Exhibition opens, yet much labor is tho be accomplished, begun none too soon.
The location of the Fair Grounds is just below the southwestern city limits, less than a block, indeed, below where would meet the continuance of the two straight streets opened and well graded, on the south and west boundaries of the city. The Archer road, a diagonal between these, is the most direct road to the heart of the city. The St. Louis, Alton and Chicago Railroad line runs within a stone’s throw of the Fair Ground. An eighth of a mile distant, up the Archer road, is the landing, which may be reached by tugs up thr South Branch.
Thus it will be seen, even from this brief description, that access may be had to the fair grounds by a variety of routes. Those who drive from the city in their own vehicles may take their choice of streets running west or south, and striking city limits, proceed straight to the Grounds, or they may come by the shorter, but at that time more crowded route, the Archer road.
The main public conveyance will be the cars of the St. Louis, Alton and Chicago Railroad Company, who carry passengers at one dime fare. The river will furnish a pleasant route to those with whom the moderate walk at the lower end will be no objection. There will be an abundance of public vehicles run, of all classes and various rates of fare.
As to the grounds themselves, they are the old Brighton Trotting Park, an enclosure of eighty acres, surrounded by a substantial board fence. This will give a noble area, which Mr. Derby is now actively putting in order. The plans of the buildings are already drawn, and they were yesterday located. The Floral Hall, Textile Hall, Agricultural Hall, Machine Arcade, and what is to be prominent feature this year, Military Hall. The stalls for stock are being erected, and are pronounced the best of any Fair ever before held in the State.
The Committee have opened their rooms at the Tremont House, and Prsident Van Epps, Lewis Ellsworth, Esq., or some of their associates, will be found as above atv all times from now until the Fair opens. They may also be addressed by letter at the Tremont House.
Everything seems to promise that, despite the hard times, the Fair will be a success. All the lines of railroads traversing the Northwest, are to carry passengers at half rates during Fair week, and offer most liberal terms as to transportation of stock and articles for exhibition.
The location of the Fair is a happy combination of city and country. The farmers may come in, in their own teams, and reaching the Fair, encamp in its vicinity, visiting the city when they please, but not of necessity thrown into its confused and busy streets. The military feature of the Fair will give it a National prominence and attraction.Never before was invention more quickened than now in the production of novel engines of war. The production of military goods is immense. It will furnish an attractive opportunity for inventors and manufacturers to introduce themselves to the public, of which they will not ne slow to avail themselves.
Then the location of the Fair, with miles of open prairie to the southward, will give opportunity for the testing of armsm and long range pieces, and for target practice. This department will be under the charge and supervision of experienced military men.
The Fair of 1861 will be a success. It only needs now that our merchants and business men take hold and secure for it a subscription list which shall be ample for its first necessities. For this purpose, G.W. Gage, Esq., as recently announced by himself in our columns, is canvasing the city. He should have a liberal support.
Chicago Tribune, August 29, 1861
The State Fair Grounds
The location of the State Fair at Brighton, where it is to open on the 9th of September, is a most happy compromise between the city and the country, accessible from either, and that without obtruding the confusion of city scenes and streets upon the Fair and its attendants, biped and quadruped. Here the farmers can come with their own vehicles, and on the broad, green verge of our city enjoy quiet camping ground; and from the city, by railroad and river, and by street vehicles, for the latter a choice of several excellent streets offering a delightful drive.
We visited the Fair Grounds yesterday morning, and found much progress to be reported since our last notice on these grounds. The enclosure of eighty acres in extent is the finest imaginable in roominess for the several features of the Fair. There will be no crowding this time
Of the stalls and buildings erected, it must be said as a whole, that good judges pronounce them the best ever erected for any State Fair in the West. This is an abundant guarantee of the intention of the managers of these Fair Grounds to make these exhibitions permanent and annual.
The leading structure in location and size is the Amphitheatre, an arc of a circle 304 feet long on its inner side, with a bank of seventeen seats, in the rear of and above which extends a promenade seventeen feet high, twelve feet broad, and three hundred and thirty feet in length, overlooking the entire grounds.
The amphitheatre is roofed and is well and compactly built under the supervision of Jacob Harris, Esq. The rear of the amphitheatre is devoted to eighteen refreshment booths each 18 by 32, of which the bank of seats forms the ceiling.
The first row of structures extending along the northern front of the grounds, is in the shape of a Roman cross, giving accommodations for the President’s Office, Editor’s Hall and Telegraph Office.
Next east is the Business Office, 25 by 86 feet and 12 feet high. The Ticket Office is at the right of the northern entrance to the grounds.
The two Eating Houses are each 30 by 90 built at right angles to each other, and the corner angle is filled by a bar. This feature of the Fair, the eating houses, are in the complete charge of Cox of the Massasoit House.
Beyond this stand five similar buildings each 40×90, for the Halls of Exhibition.
The structures named will be finished within a day or two. One or two others remain to be erected, among them a pagoda in the centre of the Exhibition Ring. This ring gives an eighth of a mile circular track, and is on the northwestern verge of the larger oblong mile, and thus directly in front of the amphitheatre.
There are five hundred stalls arranged on the western front of the grounds. They are of excellent construction and roominess. Two wells are being dug within the grounds, but it will not be necessary to rely upon these wholly, as water for stock will be brought through pipes from the South Branch half a mile distant.
Superintendent Derby deserves high credit for the skill and enterprise thus far displayed, and everything now promises exceedingly well for the Fair. Never before has an opportunity been offered over all our railroads for visitors to come to Chicago at half fare, and this will bring out thousands.
As before stated, the facilities for reaching the ground are various and good. The Chicago and Alton Road runs direct to the ground; the horse cars will connect with a line of omnibusses on the Archer Road; tugs can run up the river nearly to the grounds; and several good roads will be patronized by independent conveyances. The rates fixed on railroad are ten cents each fare, and other conveyances will do likewise.
The military feature of the Fair is a most promising and attractive one, and finds new and wider development daily.
The trial of fire-arms will take place just outside the grounds every day, where an unlimited range can be had, and we learn there will be likely to be considerable competition in this department.
Yesterday closed the racing sport for several days on the Brighton track—preparations for the coming State Fair precluding all turf matters.1
Inter Ocean, January 31, 1900
PLANS PARK FOR BRIGHTON.
The South park board yesterday authorized the president, Joseph Donnersberger, to begin negotiations for a park for Brighton. The plot of land which is favored by the commission lies between Western avenue and Robey street, commencing at Thirty-Seventh street and extending to Thirty-Ninth street. Within this space there are thirty-six acres which, the commissioners believe, can readily be rounded into a handsome park at a comparatively small cost. President Donnersberger was empowered to negotiate with the owner and secure the best possible terms. He will report to the board at the bext meeting, when decisive action on the matter may be expected.
Chicago Tribune, September 18, 1901
The lake front park is Grant Park. It was so named by the Legislature two years ago.
President Joseph Donnersberger of the South Park Commission:
- Grant Park was named by an act of the Legislature. Of course, it would be an appropriate thing if we had a McKinley Park. Grant Park should always retain its present name. Chicago owes it to the memory of one of Illinois’ greatest men.
Commissioner William Best:
- It would be a grand thing if we could have a McKinley Park to add to our Lincoln Park and Garfield Park. I wish we had a large tract of land out of which to create such a park.
Chicago Tribune, October 10, 1901
McKinley Park came into being yesterday when the South Park Commissioners voted Chicago an enduring memorial to the murdered President.
A MKinley statue in heroic size is produced for the park and a McKinley boulevard completes the memorial project.
With the christening every park of importance in the South Park boulevrd system bers the name of a President of the United States. The name Lake Front Park was changed to Grant Park early in the meeting of the board. This action was formal, the last Legislature having authorized the change.
McKinley Park, which will open to the public early next spring, is bounded by Leavitt street and Western avenue and Thirty-seventh street and Thirty-ninth street. The land was bought last winter by the park board, and the commissioners declare that McKinley Park will be made one of the most attractive parks in the South Side system. The location is regarded as particularly desirable, in that Thirty-seventh street may be boulevarded out to Western avenue before the end of another year. If so, the name will be McKinley boulevard.
All Favor Memorial Name.
Commissioner Daniel F. Crilly made the motion for a McKinley Park, and it passed the board without a murmur of dissent, the members declaring that their only regret was that they had not a larger park to name after the dead President.
Commissioner Crilly said:
- In naming our new park after President McKinley, I think we are establishing a memorial to a man who has done more for his country than any man alive today. The park will be located in a part of the city where it will do the greatest good. Many workingmen live in the vicinity of the new park, and they certainly owe more to McKinley for their material prosperity than to any man whom they might honor.
Commissioner Jefferson Hodgkins, who seconded the motion to name the park after the President, said:
- I should like to see even greater testimonial offered from the board, if it were possible. If one of our boulevards also might be named after McKinley I should favor the change.
Other McKinley Memorials.
Then came a discussion of the proposed boulevarding of Thirty-seventh street. Opinion seemed general that the new boulevard should bear the same name as the park.
Commissioner Hodgkins proposed that a site in McKinley Park should be set aside for a statue of of the dead President, and that similar sites should be chosen in Washingto, Jackson and Grant Parks for statues of Presidents whose memory the parks were named.
Top: 1897 (Brighton Park)
Bottom Left: 1904
Bottom Right: 1913
Park for the People.
As McKinley was a man of the people, so will McKinley Park be a park for the people. While the plans are not completed, it has been determined that a large play ground will be situated in the center of the park, while on the Leavitt street side will be a wading pool for children and a swimming pool for boys.
A gymnasium for boys and girls will be another feature of the new park.
The site of the park originally was the old Brighton Park racetrack. It is two long blocks in dimensions either way, and when completed from the street, comprises forty acres.
Chicago Tribune, January 26, 1902
The swimming pool building, which is to be constructed in McKinley Park, is shown in the accompanying picture. The South Park board has appropriated $25,000 for erecting the the structure. The commissioners expect the pool to be a popular attraction at the new park.
McKinley Park was purchased one year ago. It comprises forty acres, on Western avenue, between Thirty-seventh and Thirty-ninth streets, and since then it has been grassed and planted, sidewalks have been built, and a skating pond constructed, on which the children are enjoying themselves. The park is to be lighted by electricity.
Commissioner D.W. Crilly is pushing his plan for a monument to McKinley in the park. He ssays he will give $100 toward the project. He has assumed the responsibility of organizing an association to collect funds for this purpose, and announced yesterday that Charles L. Hutchinson had consented to act as President of such an organization. Everybody will be given an opportunity to contribute.
Chicago Tribune, August 31, 1902
In McKinley park, the new public playground which the South park board is turning into a garden spot, is a wading pool for children. Little boys and girls of the neighborhood find the pool a cool retreat on hot days. It is a frequent sight yo see the boys barelegged, and little girls without shoes and stockings with dresses pinned up, wading in the water.
McKinley Park Lagoon
McKinley Interior Map
Chicago Tribune, July 5, 1905
The statue of William McMcKinley, erected in McKinley park, was dedicated yesterday afternoon. Over 5,000 persons gathered to hear the speeches of Gov. Deneen, Mayor Dunne, President Foreman of the south park board, and Judge Grosschup, who delivered the oration of the day. The statue, the work of Charles J. Mulligan, now stands near the entrance to the park, marked only by the inscription:
Musical numbers of the program were by the First regiment band and a chorus of 100 school children under the direction of Oscar Chapleau. The presentation speech was made by Daniel F. Crilly, who was followed by Chaplain William Busby of the Grant Post, Grand Army of the Republic. At the closing words of his pryer the statue, which had been covered with the national flag, was unveiled by Miss Josephine Crilly. It was decorated with a large floral wreath, and the presidential salute was fired by a squad from the Silas Casey Post, G.A.R.
October 13, 1912
1 Prairie Farmer, September 11, 1915
In 1860, at Jacksonville,Ill., with a reduction in receipts of a little over $1,200 as compared with Peoria three years previous ($4,551.43), owing to an increase in both expenses and premiums, there came a deficit (for the first time in state fair history) of $670.88. There was a partial recovery from this in the next fair held at Chicago, but in consequence of the civil war being in progress in 1862, there was a practical abandonment of the fair to be held at Peoria for that year, the premiums, amounting to $715.50 , being issued solely on field trials of agricultural implements. This also resulted in a second deficit amounting to $849.73.