Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Let's Go To The Races!
The trotters run at Readville (BPL Flickr photo group).
It's been a while since I posted. That's because I've suffered from a 'new improved!' version of Google Blogger. As with other social media software, Google has managed to scramble what was a perfectly good system, for no benefit that I can see. I won't bore you with the details, but the difficulties of learning the new layout have been great enough to make me walk away from the effort for many weeks. That being said.... back to Boston history.
Many people are familiar with Suffolk Down racetrack in East Boston. Fewer know that there was once a track in Readville at the southern tip of the city. The track, once cite of the civil war training Camp Meigs, famous for its role in the history of the black 54th Massachusetts Regiment. After the war, it became home to an agricultural fairground in the then-new town of Hyde Park. With the fair came horse racing, and the racing stayed after the fairground closed.
In 1896, a new mile-long trotting track opened, with grandstands and a hotel. With a new century came a new form of transportation, and the first thing men did with automobiles was to race them.Trotters and automobiles shared the track. By the early 1930s, a new track had been laid, and cars were king. Nineteen thirty-seven saw the last official race, and during the war years, military pilots used the track to practice landings.
Cars at the starting line (BPL Flickr group).
Stop and Shop built a large distribution warehouse on the site along the railroad tracks, which sits empty today, waiting for redevelopment. As a final, threatened indignity, the town of Dedham once considered their strip of land at the site (much of it wetlands) as a dedicated 'adult' business district. The effort was, of course, an effort to scam their way out of Constitutional requirements, and wiser heads prevailed.
Source: Boston Public Library, Sports Temples of Boston