Monday, January 5, 2009

Myrick's Race Track

Williard F. Myrick was one of Chicago's original settlers, building a house on Vernon Ave., in what was then the open prairie. He was one of the city's leading citizens and a substantial philanthropist. He was also a master horseman, and in 1844, he developed Chicago's first horse track at this location, between 26th St., 31st St., and east of Indiana Ave.

Chicago early on was a gamblers' haven, drawing Mississippi River riverboat sharpies who fled prosecution in the South during the 1830s. Betting on horse races was a favorite pastime for many of Chicago's earliest residents.

Myrick died in 1889, and his race track has long since been developed, although Dunbar Park, pictured here, recollects the area's original use. The park was created in 1965, named after African-American author Paul Dunbar.

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