|Washington Park Race Track, Derby Day, c.1900
In 1883, some 500 prominent Chicagoans formed the Washington Park Jockey Club. Within a year, the club purchased land just south of Washington Park and established a race track that, for the next twenty years, was both Chicago's premier horseracing venue and an exclusive social club for its wealthy members. On American Derby Day in the spring racing season, wealthy Chicagoans (such as Arthur Meeker Jr., Fred Stephenson, Miss Marjorie Burns, and Mrs. Arthur Caton pictured here) went to the race track along with more than ten thousand other race fans to watch the high stakes race. In 1896, architect Solon Beman built a club house and C. B. McDonald built a short nine-hole golf course in the center of the track for the club's members. The prestige of both the track and the club were short-lived. In 1905, a gambling ban forced the race track to close. By that time, new, larger golf courses and the residential dispersion of elite members marked the club's decline as well.
The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago © 2005 Chicago Historical Society.
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