BRIGHTON TROTTING PARK
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 DRIVING PARK.
Chicago Tribune, August 6, 1863
Chicago Driving Park Association.—It will be seen by references to the advertisement in another column, that the formal opening of the Driving Park Association will take place on the 25th instant, and that there is to be a week of sport, during which over $1,500 will be trotted for, as follows:
- On Tuesday, August 25th, a purse of $300
On Wednesday the 26th, a purse of $200, and a purse of $100
On Thursday the 27th, a purse of $399, a purse of $200, a purse of $150, and a purse of $50 On Friday, a purse of $400.
These matches will doubtless be largely attended.
Chicago Tribune, August 26, 1863
Yesterday was a beautiful day for an out of door meeting of the character on the course of the Chicago Driving Park Association. The air was bracing, cool, and yet not uncomfortably so. About one thousand persons were on the grounds, embracing some of our wealthiest and most respectable citizens and their families. No more quiet and orderly crowd ever gathered on a racecourse in this city. The police regulations were excellent. No liquor was sold, and no drunken man was seen.
Directors James Van Etta, H. H. Yates, and U. H. Crosby, acted as judges. Director Myrick assisted during the last heat. President Thompson, being the owner of one of the horses in the race, did not officiate.
Chicago Driving Park
31st and State Street
Davie’s Atlas with the latest recorded subdivisions by W.L. Flower and J. Van Vechten, 1863
Garden City Track
36th Street and Indiana
Chicago Tribune, September 4, 1865
Illinois State Fair to be held at the Chicago Driving Park, beginning September 4, 1865. This map was published as a guide for the many visitors who will be visiting Chicago for the first time.
Chicago Tribune, September 24, 1866
The trot at the Driving Park on Saturday was not only the most exciting race ever taken place in Chicago, but it ended in a calamity which has cast a shadow of gloom over the day’s proceedings, and given rise to unpleasant suspicions. The result of the trot was undecided, and the driver of one of the horses was picked up bleeding from the track, very severely injured. At the close of the race it was universally believed that he was killed, and this naturally diverted attention from the details of the trot, which of itself was exciting to an unusual degree.
The match was between the two famous horses “Cooley” and General Butler,” for a purse of $5,000. The interest felt throughout the city in the race was manifested in the large crowd which gathered on the grounds in the afternoon. Three o’clock was the hour announced for the first start, and before that time a considerable crowd had assembled. The day was fine though somewhat chilly towards evening, but owing to the heavy rains of the past few weeks the track was in rather bad condition, especially on the back stretch, where it was exceedingly heavy.
It was now completely dark, and the last run was made by moonlight. Angry words were heard between the drivers, and the crowd divided into two parties, some being in favor of postponing the race, while others loudly demanded that it should go on. After much delay, and much noise and quarreling, which threatened at times to break into a disturbance, a start was made. Both horses then seemed to vanish into the darkness. It was impossible to follow them round the track, so the crowd waited at the winning post with breathless interest for the result. It was a moment of intense anxiety. At length a shout was raised, and Cooley came in under the wire. Close behind him came Butler, without a driver, and went careering around the track. The crowd gathered around the stand in wonder and astonishment to learn the cause. Again Butler came round and dashed away without a pause. A third time he came swinging round the circle, when a blanket was thrown over him, and he passed into the stable quite unharmed. But where was the driver? The fact was announced from the judges’ stand that McKeaver was left dead upon the back track, and a scene of excitement ensued. Strange to say, it did not appear to be caused by the intelligence of the driver’s death, but by the unsatisfactory result of the contest. A decision was vociferously demanded of the judges. They repeated the assertion that McKeaver was killed, and announced that the decision would be postponed, which only elicited louder calls on the part of the crowd for an immediate decision. The loss of a man was apparently nothing compared with the loss of a bet. “We have put up our money,” they cried, “and we want to have it.” Finally, all bets were declared off, and the crowd began to separate.
The decision announced, the crowd had time to think of the driver of the horse General Butler, and loud cries were raised to know what had become of him. A party of men set off instantly round the track in search of McKeaver, while those remaining demanded explanations of Riley, the driver of Cooley. Riley went up to the Judges’ stand, and amid such a din that it was difficult to hear, and in so much agitation that it was equally difficult to understand, he told that McKeaver had run into the fence and capsized his sulky, and that he (Riley) had stopped Cooley to avoid running over him, being behind the fallen man at theb time of the accident.
The statement of Riley was received by some as truth, while others doubted it and called out for his arrest, and some of the more violent ones were clamorous for vengeance. Riley was taken into custody by Assistant Superintendent Nelson, who was on the ground, at the time, and was brought to the Armory to be held till the facts in case could be ascertained.
M Keaver Found.
The driver of Butler was found by the searching party lying on the track, on the back stretch, about twenty rods from the half mile post, in an insensible condition. It was too dark to ascertain the extent of his injuries there and he was therefore conveyed with all possible speed to the residence of J. H. Gore, county physician, No. 887 Michigan avenue, but a few blocks distant from the spot where he fell.
An examination of the patient showed that he had been struck on the left temple by some hard substance, which had fractured the skull extensively. No other mark was found on the person except a few scratches, such as would be sustained by coming in contact roughly with the ground. Dr. Gore extracted three pieces of the cranium, one piece about one inch by one and a quarter, and the other perhaps half an inch square each, the sufferer all the time remaining insensible. It was hoped that when the pressure was taken from the brain consciousness would return, but such was not the case, and this fact proved, what was afterwards ascertained by examination—that the brain itself had been contused. It was then feared that the wound was mortal, and Dr. Grove so announced to the friends of the sufferer, who had waited in almost breathless suspense for his dictum. There was no hope. Everything that could be done for the patient, either in the way of medical attendance by the doctor, or soothing arts by his friends, was done. But he lay almost as one dead, and far into the night the silent watchers saw him still lying there, with no signs of returning consciousness. They knew that the end was near, and telegraphed to his friends in New York city to come here if they expected to see him alive.
The Death of McKeaver.
About half past four o’clock yesterday (Sunday) afternoon McKeaver breathed his last in the presence of several of his friends, at the residence of the physician, if not having been deemed safe to remove him.
The Dastardly Act.
An explanation was made of the scene of the tragedy in the hope of finding some clue to the manner in which McKeaver came to his death. The fact that both sulkies were without a scratch tended to exonerate Riley from the charge of having run his vehicle against that of the deceased. The mystery was partially solved on finding a board some ten feet long, six inches wide at one end, and something wider at the other (an ordinary fence rail) which was laying near the spot, one end covered with blood, and a piece shivered from the end.
Explanation of the Affair.
There is little room to doubt that some person or persons, impelled by personal malice or a determination at all hazards to prevent the winning of the race by Butler, seized a rail from an adjacent fence, and stood on the track where he kn=e knew Butler would pass within reach, and where favored by the darkness he could escape. No blow was needed, all that was required was for the assassin to hold the board so that the horse or driver would run against it, and the pace at which he was going—about twelve yards per second—being a greater velocity than any that could be given to a weapon wielded in the hand. The calculation, if made was but too well made. The concussion, probably intended for the horse, was sustained by the driver, with the fatal result above detailed.
Chicago Tribune, September 24, 1866
Chicago Tribune Editorial
Horse Racing and Homicide.
An atrocious murder was committed on the track of the Chicago Driving Park on Saturday, during the fifth heat of an exciting trot between the celebrated horses, Cooley and General Butler. Each of the horses had won two heats. A bedlamite wrangle had been started between the drivers and the blacklegs who had staked their money on the race, growing out of an alleged “foul” on the part of William McKeave, the driver of General Butler, on the fourth heat. Mr. Riley, the driver of Cooley, in consequence of the alleged foul play, or in fear of a defeat, drove his horse to the stable at the end of the fourth heat and refused to go go around the course again. The clamor of the crowd, however, forced him to come out and make the fifth heat. The sun had gone down down, and it was so dark that the horses could not be seen more than half a dozen lengths from the judges’ stand. The two horses and two drivers started off in the darkness. Two minutes later the horse General Butler came around the track without his driver, McKeaver, running until tired out. His driver, McKeaver, was found lying on the track bleeding and insensible, with his skull fractured. He died on Sunday afternoon. The wound which he received was inflicted with a piece of board, which was found near him fringed with his blood and hair. Evidently a blow had been dealt him as he passed, or the board had been thrust in his way so that he should dash his brains out against it, by some person as yet unknown. There can be no doubt that the crime was committed by some villain who had staked his money on the race, and who had a pecuniary interest in disabling the driver of Butler.
Of course this shocking transaction will be investigated by the courts, and the guilty party, if found, subjected to the penalty of the law. But the cause of good morals has a deeper interest in the case. The only difference between gambling at races and gambling at faro is that one is fashionable and the other is not. The essence of the race is the money to be won by the horses. Without this incentive the horses would not go, and the sporting fraternity would not be there. All the bad passions of the human heart are brought into play, and the wonder is not that McKeaver was killed on Saturday, but that so few men are killed at these places. The darkness in which this deed was perpetrated, was merely fortuitous circumstance. The spirit of murder was stirred up by the race and the betting, and when darkness gave promise that the deed might be committed without discovery, it was done.
There is no middle ground between gambling and honest industry. Faro banks, lotteries, gift enterprises, and horse races, all belong to the same category. We can conceive that the trial of the speed of horses at an agricultural fair, for instance, may be in itself, harmless, but have no doubt that the encouragement and quasi-respectability thus given to racing isn productive of far more harm than good.
Chicago Tribune, November 6, 1866
End of the Driving Park.—The managers of the Chicago Driving Park Association announce that they will sell of the fixtures, &c., of their establishment, on Saturday next. The Driving Park will then be vacated. It may be continued as a track for exercising horse, but will not be again used for racing purposes. The public well enough understands the reasons which have prompted this course, it was found impossible to keep the place free from blacklegs, and the gentlemen who compose the Association have wisely decided to discontinue that, even though it break up this.
Chicago Tribune, June 16, 1867
The attention of the sporting public of Chicago, and indeed, of the Northwest, is now engrossed in anticipation of the completion of the new Dexter Park, at the Union Stock Yards, near this city. That event is near at hand. The work, being in efficient hands, has been rapidly pushed forward from the start, so that it is now all but finished. No previous season in the history of the turf of this city has been free from complaint, in too many cases well grounded. At different timed our courses have been in the hands of gamblers, and not of those whom love for the sport has attached to the turf, and who have always been the safeguard of racing in this country. These, following the turf merely with the view of making fortunes by it, have brought racing in Chicago into discredit and disrepute. Although under the direction of a few respectable and fair-dealing gentlemen the Driving Park enjoyed a brief respite and a short season of prosperity, even their effort were unable to prevent jockeying and swindling, and the result was that last fall the sun of the Driving Park went down forever, stained by the blood of McKeever. All remember the circumstances of this affair; those who derive enjoyment from the excitement peculiar to racing beheld the sensation that this lamentable tragedy caused in the mind of the public and were regrettably led to believe that the history of the turf in this community was then brought to a final close.
There were a few, however, who derived encouragement from the McKeever tragedy and the popular feeling to which it gave rise, in attaining the long-sought respectability to which racing is brought in other countries. They saw how, with proper exertion, the public feeling would be brought, henceforth, to frown down and exclude from the race-corse swindlers and gamblers. With this view a company was formed and capital enough raised to construct a racing course on the most complete and perfect scale. These were the proprietors of the Dexter Park, whose description and future prospects constitute the subject of what is to follow.
The course is situated on a level tract, directly south and only a few rods distant from the Hough House. The land on which it lies is a perfect level. Of this, eighty acres are enclosed within a high board fence. An inspection of this course impresses one at first sight with the taste that has been manifested in its construction. In all its details one knows not where to criticize, while in everything he sees something to praise.
The entrance is from the north, through an avenue paved with wooden block, and lined on the west by a long row of wooden block, where the trainers are to keep the horses in their charge. Entering the park, to the east is a row of sheds, for the reception of the horses and carriages of those who come to see the races. At the end of the avenue is an octagonal structure, not yet completed. This will be occupied by the saloon and for pool-selling. On the top of the building is an observatory for the use of gentlemen of note and distinction who may visit the course during the races. Just south of this is a long stand, fronting the west. It is tastefully and conveniently arranged, and has capacity for about 1,500 people. This will constitute the grand stand for gentlemen. Still south, and on the east side of the course, likewise, is a small but very neat stand capable of containing about 20 ladies for whose use it is to be exclusively set apart. It is at a distance of about fifty feet from the main stand. Opposite the latter, and across the track, is a small stand for the judges. The track is of rounded oblong shape. It is sixty feet in width. The bed is admirably laid. The foundation is packed perfectly firm, but not hard, and slopes about two and a half inches to the inside on the straight stretches. At the rounded turns the slope is something more. These turns are made differently from those of any other track in the country, being semi-circular. This is an excellent plan, as, the usual sharp turns done away with, the horse will be able to move as fast on the turns as on the stretches. All the way around a deep ditch is constructed on the inside, into which the water from the track will readily find its way. A tile drain also leads into the ditch from beneath the centre of the coarse. Driving around the track in a heavy babouche, the wheels made scarcely any impression on the elastic surface, while the horses sped over it with the greatest ease and freedom of effort. It is surprising how fine a track has been constructed in a region where the soil is so unfavorable. The course itself is finer, faster, in every way better for trotting purposes than that of the Fashion or Union Course, on the Island, better than the Kalamazoo track—better than any track we have ever seen. So admirable have been all the plans pursued, that an unobstructed view of every portion of the track is obtained from any point, and a finer homestretch, as seen from the stands, cannot be found anywhere. A large force of men have been constantly engaged, and everything will be completed by the close of this month. On the Fourth of July, the Association announce a purse of $1,000, mile heats, three in five, to harness, free for all horses west of Buffalo. A second purse of $150 is offered for the fastest gentlemen’s road horse which has never shown better than 2:50. For the first purse Mcdoe has entered, and their owners have announced their intention of entering the well-known St. Louis horses, Tackey, Dixie and Bull of the Woods.
During August and September a series of exciting contests may be expected. Dexter, on his way from the Eats, will arrive about the last of July, accompanied by several of the best Eastern horses.
The little horse, Dexter, is in the height of a career which promises to utterly eclipse the performances of Flora Temple, and so change the record that it still remain for long series of years the emulation of future trotters. Last fall, it will be remembered, he amazed the crowds of spectators at Buffalo by his terrific rush across the score in 2:18, to saddle. This season he began an engagement with Lady Thorn, for four races, mile heats to harness, mile heats, to wagon, two miles and repeat, to wagon, for a stake of two thousand dollars each race. Of these the first three have already been won by Dexter. It was by many believed that in the first race the two 2:9-3/.4 of Flora Temple would be beaten; but the striding Lady could not and the bay gelding to that point, although he doubtless could have beaten it.1
The Celebrated Horse Dexter, “The King of the World.” Driven by Budd Doble.: As He Passed the Judges Stand on the Buffalo Fair-Grounds Buffalo, N.Y. Aug, 14, 1867.
Chicago Tribune, May 27, 1870
THE NEW GROUNDS OF THE WHITE STOCKINGS.
While the White Stockings have been on their travels, gaining renown and needed practice, busy hands have been at work preparing the club arounds for the season of 1870. These are located at Dexter Part, inside the racing course, where ample space has been set apart for the purposes of base ball. The field is laid out precisely west of
the grand stand, and the batting plate will be nearly on a line with, and immediately beyond, the octagonal club-house. The diamond-shaped space which the base lines enclose will front to the southwest, which is an admirable arrangement, as the sun will thereby be at the backs of the pitcher, second baseman, short stop, and fielders, and upon the side faces of both the first and third basemen, the catcher befog the only player who must squarely face the sun at any time. About sixty feet behind the home plate will be placed the back stop, and directly in the rear, and circling on either side, will be erected the tiers of seats, made somewhat after the style of circus seats, portable, so that the upper tiers may be taken down when the park is used for racing purposes. In addition to these, it is contemplated to constructs low tier of permanent benches around the right and left circumferences of a circle 650 feet in diameter, which is sufficiently large for the purposes of the entire field. Back of these seats will be ample room for carriages around the entire circle. The plan provides for the comfortable and eligible seating of about 12,000 persons. Add to this the carriage room, the balconies of the club-house, the ladies’ stand overlooking the race course, and a portion of the grand stand itself, and the total facilities for viewing the game of base ball are such as to provide for an attendance of over 30,000 people. The calculations are on a grand scale, but it is believed that nothing short of the vast provisions to be made at Dexter Part would be adequate for the accommodation of the multitude which will assemble there on the occasion of the contest between the two great stocking nines, the Whites and the Reds. By means of filling. grading, and rolling. together with a complete system drainage, the surface of the field has been splendidly adapted to the uses of the game. The ground is smooth, level, and compact, and is covered with a fine sward of grass. In fact, the whole arrangement is as nearly perfect as could be desired by either players or spectators. No objection can be urged upon the score of distance, as there is no spot in or about Chicago for reaching which there are so many facilities. With three separate lines of steam railways, & well-equipped street railroad, and a smooth, attractive carriage-may over the entire distance the five mlles between Dexter Park and Chicago, are rendered a very easy, short and comfortable trip. The new grounds will be formally inaugurated and thrown open to the public on the 15th of June by a came between the White stockings and the Forest city Club, of Rockford.
Chicago Tribune, June 8, 1870
Probably owing to the insufficient announcement of the game, a very small attendance of people witnessed the match played on yesterday afternoon at Dexter Park, between the White Stockings and Garden City. It was just as well that the spectator were few, for the game way neither interesting to anybody nor creditable to the Chicago Club. It was hoped and expected that the Garden City nine would allow Meyerle to pitch for them, in order to give the other side practice against swift pitching, and the fact that they refused to yield so small a point for the benefit of their opponents—although the arrangement would have materially strengthened their own team—had a tendency to render the White Stockings indifferent as to playing at all, there being nothing to gain by it. Therefore, they played but poorly, not even taking the trouble to bat Ogden’s pitching to the extent they might have done, or frequently have done heretofore. Neither was the play of the Garden Citys at all creditable. They batted but poorly, and deserved about three runs, the remainder being attributable to loose and careless play and frequent muffing of the other side.
The Garden Citys erred in supposing that a refusal to confer a benefit upon the White Stockings, and an inferior game in consequence, would reflect creditably upon themselves. Not standing in the position of competitors for fame with the professionals, a generous interest in their advantage would have done the conceding party no harm. to say the least. The The first two innings of the game were played with but eight men by the White Stockings, King having been unavoidably detained in reaching the grounds. This will account for his small showing in the score. Upon his arrival he took his position behind the bat where he proved how valuable and reliable a change catcher the club has in him. During the game a red hot fly tip took him plump on the right ere. The blow. would have beed sufficient to have disabled most other players for a day or so at least, but to him it was a mere trivial circumstance, and he proceeded with his work as though nothing, albeit the optic resembled Tow Allen’s a few minutes after Mace had shot out with his left.
43rd to 47th and Halsted Streets
Chicago Tribune, December 2, 1877
A South Park Track.
At the close of every season in Chicago there is always more or less talk about the necessity for a new track. Everybody knows that although Dexter Park has, since it passed under control of Col. Mansur, been conducted in a perfectly square manner, and has increased popularity each year, it can never become the scene of really good meetings. In the first place, the ,location is unfavorable, especially to gentlemen who wish to drive to the races, the number of railroad-tracks that must be crossed rendering the trip unpleasant and not altogether free from danger. The situation of the track itself, in the midst of packing and slaughtering houses, not to speak of stench-factories, is not the most desirable in the world, and, in general, a change of location for turf sports in Chicago could not but be beneficial.
Some three years ago, when the project of establishing a track at Central Park was broached, it was thought that this could be used for meetings at which money purses could be given, but, as the land on which the track is situated is under the control of the West Park Board, it could not be used for such purposes. And even if it were possible to secure the necessary legislation, it is not possible that Central Park would become a favorite resort unless the management underwent a decided change. There is just one place where a track could can be made popular and remunerative to those who go to speculation, and that is in the vicinity of South Park. There is plenty of vacant land thereabouts, which can be secured by a long lease or purchase, and, with a race track in that place, success would be something that could not be avoided.
In the first place, it would be fashionable, and to make it “the correct thing” to visit a track, is, in any large city, and especially Chicago, to insure its permanent prosperity. There is hardly a man in Chicago owning a horse and vehicle that does not during the summer months take at least airing a week on the boulevard, and it is safe to say that, with a well appointed and honestly conducted race-track at the south end of the park, none out of every ten that drive in the boulevard would take in the races. There are thousands of gentlemen in this city owning horses that never go to Dexter Park because the drive is a dusty, unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous one. They are men who enjoy racing as they do a good dinner,—something that they would take advantage of quickly enough were there no great amount of trouble involved in securing it. These men may be seen taking the air behind their steeds on the boulevard and in the South Parks on the very days that good racing is in progress at Dexter Park, but they never think of driving over the mile or so of ground that lies between them and sport, simply because they have no notion of rattling over railroad-tracks at breakneck speed to avoid moving trains, or or riding through clouds of stifling dust. They enjoy sport well enough, but will not go to any personal inconvenience or discomfort to reach it. With a South Park track, these men would go to the races every time, and, what is more, they would take their families along to swell the general throng.
There is another large class that is never seen at Dexter Park, and it is one without the support of which no out-door amusement can ever become a success—the clerks and small business men. There is nobody that is a more enthusiastic sportsman than your small tradesman or counter-hopper. Young men whose sole ambition in life seems to be confined by prints and tape, as nearly always a lover of sport, and can talk base-ball and horse like a back-alley leather-tosser or a stable-boy. These have never had a chance to patronize turf sports in Chicago, owing to the inaccessibility of Dexter Park, and the expense involved by a trip to it. Twenty-five cents car-fare is no small item to these people, and there are many who could well enough obtain leave of absence after 3 o’clock or so that cannot get away in time to take a dummy at 2 o’clock sharp. With a track at South Park, to which street-cars run every few minutes, they would all turn out.
Several well-known and wealthy gentlemen have been giving this matter of a South Park track considerable thought of late, and it is not at all improbable that, if they do not disagree as minor particulars, they will conclude negotiations for a suitable tract of land, and at once commence work on the buildings. While nothing definite has been decided on, it is safe to say that the matter is rapidly taking shape, and promises to result in something tangible before another week shall have passed. The gentlemen having the matter in hand may rest assured that with a proper amount of energy there can be no such thing as failure.
Chicago Tribune, May 22, 1880
The Stock Yard Company are about to make a new ice-pond and reservoir. The location settled is in Dexter Park and takes in the north curve of the old track leading north from the grand stand. The pond will cover about five acres, and will be both useful and ornamental when completed. Dexter park as a race track is now among the things of the past; the old track is crossed in four different places by railroad tracks, and Forty-fifth street, leading to the packing town will run directly through the south end of the famous old track. The buildings and shrubbery that once adorned the grounds have either been removed or are going to destruction for want of care.
CHICAGO TROTTING & JOCKEY PARK.
Chicago Tribune, May 26, 1878
A TRACK IN PROSPECT.—In announcing the demise of Dexter Park some time ago, The Tribune spoke of the abolition of that track as likely to result in the building of another, in which all the disadvantages that surrounded the old course and prevented it from ever becoming popular or successful, would be avoided. Ever since then there have been lively times among real estate agents and would-be proprietors of tracks, and numerous schemes have been formed and presented to the public, all of which, however, died in infancy. For some time past it has been known that bMessrs. Lawrence & Martin, liquor-dealers of this city, were taking the preliminary steps to the building of a trotting-track and race-course, which, in point of beauty and completeness of appointments, would eclipse anything of the kind in the country. Their plans have been alluded to in these columns heretofore, but it was not until the past two days that they were so sufficiently matured that a definite idea of what has been done and what is to be done could be obtained. To state the matter briefly, it may be said that Lawrence & Martin purpose to furnish Chicago with the finest race track and grounds in the country; that they intend having, and in fact have already secured for their enterprise, the support of some of the best-known and wealthiest men in the city; and that in a very short time the actual work of constructing the track and buildings will be begun. The exact location has not yet been definitely decided upon, but two tracts of land, one on the South Side and the other on the West, have been secured, and between these a choice will soon be made. The plans for the track and buildings are now complete, and were inspected by a Tribune man, who came away fully convinced that if they were carried out, as he was assured they would be, Chicago next year would stand at the head of all the cities in the country so far as race-tracks are concerned.
With regard to the track itself, it will be a full mile in circumference, sixty feet wide in all parts except the homestretch, which will be widened to eighty feet, thus affording ample room for starting the largest fields of horses. Inside of this track, which will be devoted to trotters, will be the running track, which will be sixty feet wide, and will afford ample facilities for the thoroughbreds.
Chicago Trotting & Jockey Park
Chicago Engraving Company
The buildings will surpass in extent and beauty those of any track in the country, and are worthy of a more detailed description that can be given here. The grand entrance to the track and grounds will front North, and will consist of two driveways, each twenty feet in width, with passages on each side for pedestrians. The ticket-office, which stands in the middle of the driveway, is a round building with windows on all sides, and ample facilities for handing out pasteboards as fast as they may be wanted. The whole will be surmounted by a very ornamental archway, on which will stand a life-size statue of a horse, and beneath this will appear the title of the Association, which, by the way, has not yet been selected. On entering the grounds, the visitor will behold on each side of him, extensive flower gardens, intersected by graveled walks, and on each side of these will be roadways for the use of carriages. To the right will be the stable for the members of the Association, and instead of being open sheds with stalls, as is the case at other tracks, they will at the new track be provided with doors, furnished with a lock and key, so that when placed inside the stall a gentleman’s rig will be safe from possible depredations by sneak thieves. In the north-east corner of the grounds will be situated the stables for the horses in training. These will consist of 150 large box stalls, and a feature of their construction will be the fact that they are to be built in sections containing from two to ten stalls each, so that a driver can select one having sufficient accommodations for his horses and be entirely separate from other establishments. On entering the track proper, which will be done from the north, the visitor will be furnished with the best of accommodations. All the buildings will have a west front, thus avoiding the exposure to the sun, which at Dexter and Central Park, is so annoying. The most notable structure, perhaps, will be the Club-House, which will be an immense two-story structure, two hundred feet long by sixty wide, and eighty-six feet in height, while the distance from the ground to the top of the flagstaff surmounting the building will be 156 feet. The upper part of the building is to be used exclusively by members, their families, and invited guests. It will consist of one large room, with toilet and cloak rooms, and will be so arranged that refreshments can be served without the trouble of descending to the lower floor. A piazza twenty-five feet in width will surround the building at this story, so that the members can can have an uninterrupted view of the contests taking place on the track. The lower floor of the Club-House will also be fitted up in magnificent style. The carriage-porch will be approached by a private driveway and entrance.On each side of the ground entrance and hallway, will be two large reception rooms, and two large alcove rooms will be utilized as a restaurant. The main portion of this floor will be used for the supplying of refreshments. A piazza, similar to the one on the second story, will encircle the building on the first floor level, and the entire structure will be surrounded by grounds, on which the landscape gardener is to expend his talent.
What is to be known as the Select Stand, will situated just south of the Grand Stand. It will be in the Swiss style of architecture, one hundred and fifty feet in length, and have a seating capacity of 4,000. Each chair will be numbered, precisely as in theaters, and reserved tickets to this stand will, during race meetings, be sold at the down-town hotels, etc.
The Grand Stand will be one of the finest of its kind in the country. It is intended that this shall seat approximately ten thousand people, and it will be four hundred feet long, by sixty wide. The back of the building will contain numerous windows, which can be opened or shut at pleasure, thus affording a current of air on hot days, or keeping out a storm from the West. The space underneath this stand will be converted into an immense hall, 60 by 400 feet, in which refreshment will be served, and where the occupants of the stand can take refuge in case of a storm. The judges’ and reporters’ stand will be between the grand stand and the Club-House, while the musicians are to be provided with a handsome pagoda, just inside the running track and a little south of the judges.
This in brief is an outline of what is to be done. As above stated, the principal hotels and a number of prominent citizens have taken hold of the matter, and a meeting will soon be called, at which the Association will be furnished with a name and a set of officers elected.
Chicago Trotting & Jockey Park
Inter Ocean, September 19, 1892
In 1890 the “West Side Track” (Chicago Trotting & Jockey Park) was under the management of Ed. Corrigan. When this property came into the hands of the present lessees in May, 1891, it was called Garfield Park, and Mr. Corrigan’s new track, opened May 20, was known as the Chicago Racing Association, a name that has gone into disuse in favor of “Hawthorne,” the name of an adjacent railway station.
WASHINGTON PARK CLUB.
Chicago Tribune, February 10, 1883
A certificate of the Washington Park Club was filed for record yesterday. The object is to establish a gentlemen’s driving-park where running and other meetings may be held. The capital stock is $100,000, 1,000 shares at $100 each. The license was issued to N. K. Fairbank, H. J. MacFarland, J. W. Doane, and John Dupee Jr. The subscribers of the above stock include many prominent citizens. Their names were given last week.
Washington Park Club
June 27 & 28 Advertisements
Chicago Tribune, June 8, 1884
The Washington Park Club threw open the doors of its elegant club-house yesterday for the first time to invited guests, and 3,000 persons availed themselves of the opportunity of inspecting what is to be the finest race-course in the world. The occasion was an informal reception. Cards had been issued by the members of the club to their friends to a lunch at the club-house and a private view of the grounds. About 3 o’clock the carriages containing the guests began to arrive. Entering the grounds at the main gate the carriages drove to the portcochere of the club-house, where numerous grooms stood in readiness to take charge of the vehicles. The guests, upon alighting, ascended to the broad veranda that commands a view of the approach to the park, where were stationed the members of the club who composed the reception committee. Upon the lawn that extends from the club-house to the track an orchestra was stationed. It was interesting to watch the arrival of the guests. From the club-house, out the grounds, and and away along the drive as far as could be seen, came carriage after carriage. Bugle calls announced the approach Mr. Charles Schwarts and party in his coach and four. Mr. Dickey and party were similarly accompanied, and Capt. Kenworthy Brown drove four in hand. Down the road came a dog-cart and tandem, two male exquisites driving, and a conventional footman behind. At one time the carriages arrived more rapidly than they could be disposed of, and quite a blockade was formed, the line of vehicles extending a quarter of a mile from the gates. At 4 o’clock an elegant lunch was served in the main dining-hall.
Washington Park Club
Chicago Engraving Company
The club-house is complete in its appointments, and received flattering commendation from all. The first object one sees upon coming within view of the park is a Gothic structure of three stories which presents, an attractive pile of gables, dormer windows, balconies, and verandas. The structure is of the rural English style, and was planned by G. G. Beeman. Entering the building from the portcochere and broad balcony that surround the ground floor one comes into a spacious hall, which extends through the building, opening upon the balcony at the other side. Another hall traverses the first floor in an opposite direction, intersecting the former. In reality the ground floor is an immense hall off from which are numerous other apartments. The hall is finished in hardwoods, and the highly-polished floor is covered in places by Turkish rugs of handsome designs. The chandeliers are brass finished in bronze, and the arrangement is a number of jets branching from a centre. To the left as one enters is the office; opposite is the ladies’ retiring room. Down the hall to the left is the café, 75 by 33 feet, the billiard-parlor, Directors’ parlors, ladies’ reception-room, retiring-room, and five dining-rooms. One reaches the floor above by a broad oak stairway, guarded by a balustrade that is richly carved in open designs. Half way up is a capacious landing where are spread Turkish rugs, and the stairs take an opposite direction from this point. The second story has a grand dining-room of the same dimensions as the café. There are ladies’ parlors, toilet and retiring-rooms, serving-rooms, and seven private dining-rooms. In the third story are the living apartments of the Superintendent of the hotel, sleeping-rooms for members, and servants’ rooms. Balconies are sixteen feet wide surrounding the house on both stories. The entire club-house is 125×80 feet. The building will be devoted to the members of the club and their families, and the freedom of the house will also be extended to members of the press during the racing seasons. The public will not be admitted to the club-house.
Off to the left of the club-house is the grand stand, 504 feet in length, fifty-five feet wide, and three stories high. A broad walk, from which a lawn stretches away to either side, extends from the club-house to the grand stand. At the end of the latter nearest the club-house is the saddling paddock. Here, in plain view of the club-house balconies and lawns, the jockeys saddle, mount, and exercise their horses before going on the track. The grand stand is a model of such structures. It sits back from the track and upon an elevation of five and one-half feet. Greensward slopes to the tracks, and from no position in the stand or from the lawn in front will not the horses be visible from any point on the track. The line of vision is simply perfect. Ten thousand people will be accommodated here. Not on benches or in fixed chairs, but each will have an ordinary chair and there will be no crowding and jamming. Along the front railing and separated from the other seats by a high railing is a row of seventy-two boxes, each of which will accommodate four persons. These will be rented at $10 per day or $60 for the season. One feature of the arrangement is to have the judges’ stand on the same side of the track as the grand stand, so that the judges and the public will have the same baseline as to which is the winning horse. In the basement of the grandstand is a room 200×55 feet, where all the book-making and betting is to be done. In no other part of the ground will it be permitted. Access to the second story of the grand stand is gained by five flights of stairs, and on top of the building is a promenade extending the entire length. From here can be obtained a magnificent view of the surrounding country. A feature of the appointments of the grand stand is the café on the ground floor, where the public can obtain refreshments the same as at the club-house. There also private dining-rooms, and the arrangement is for the benefit of those who have not the privileges of the club-house.
The stables are said to be the finest in the world. Four hundred stalls are already completed, and more are being finished. In the eighty and one-half acres which are embraced in the grounds there are twelve miles of tile drainage. The space inside the tracks is diversified by two miniature lakes with high sloping banks of greensward and cobble-stone margins. Before the formal opening of the par, June 28, there will be steam-cart transportation to the gates of the grounds.
About 6 o’clock the guests began to depart for the city, though many remained till evening to drive home in the moonlight.
Washington Park Club Program
The Chicago Race Track
From a photograph by J. W. Taylor
Harper’s Weekly, August 4, 1888
The Chicago Jockey Club House at Washington Park
Washington Park Club
Blanchard’s Guide Map of Chicago
1 The horse “Dempster” was owned by gambler, George Trassell of Hairtrigger Block.