Sports Temples of Boston: Sports Temples of Boston: Images of Historic Ballparks, Arenas, and Statiums 1872-1972

Readville Race Track

Cartographer: Bromley, George Washington

Cartographer: Bromley, Walter Scott

Hyde Park, Massachusetts
1912

The Readville Race Track, originally known as the Readville Trotting Park, was located half in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston and half in Dedham. Originally part of Camp Meigs, a Union Army camp where regiments from Massachusetts trained during the Civil War (including the famous 54th Massachusetts Regiment), the land was purchased by the Norfolk County Agricultural Society in 1869. The site was used for agricultural shows for much of the late 19th century, with a half-mile track built for racing.

In 1895, the New England Trotting Horse Breeders’ Association began construction of a mile track, grandstands, bleachers, stables and a hotel. When the track was officially opened on August 25, 1896, it was immediately recognized as one of the premier venues for harness racing in the United States. In 1903, history was made at Readville when a five-year-old mare named Lou Dillon became the first trotter to run a two-minute mile. In addition to this milestone achievement, 1903 saw the first auto race at Readville. Auto racing became so popular that on Memorial Day 1905, a crowd of 12,000 people showed up to watch the gas-burners compete. In 1906, the first recorded “stock” car race at Readville was held, a race using automobiles built for private use and not for racing.

Horse and auto racing continued to coexist at Readville Race Track but by the late 1920s horses trod the track and the car was king. In the early 1930s, a new auto track was laid using fill from the newly constructed Sumner Tunnel with a harder surface and steep banks along the curves to accommodate the speed of the modern racer. From the early to mid 1930s, top drivers continued to race at Readville. May 31, 1937 was the last official day of auto racing at the famous race track. Although drivers would come occasionally to try out their machines, the racing days at Readville were over. By World War II, the site was largely abandoned, although U.S. Navy pilots from Squantum Naval Air Station flying their yellow Stearman biplanes would practice “touch and go” landings on the remnants of the old oval track.

According to Walter “Bud” Barrett, Jr., an authority on the local history of auto and horse racing and the writer of The Story of the Readville Race Track, the entire site of the track is now part of the Stop & Shop warehouse and commissary. Mr. Barrett notes that a chain link fence at the end of Hyde Park Avenue marks the old entrance to the Readville Race Track, and a small strip of land along the fence to the left are all that remain of the original racing grounds.

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9 images found
Trotters at Readville Track

1. Trotters at Readville Track

Image number: 05_02_010134
Photographer: Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967
Hyde Park, Massachusetts (ca. 1930)

Horse jumping at Readville

2. Horse jumping at Readville

Image number: 05_02_010135
Photographer: Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967
Hyde Park, Massachusetts (ca. 1930)

Woman rider jumps horse over the fence at Readville.

Auto on fire at Readville

3. Auto on fire at Readville

Image number: 05_02_010463
Photographer: Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967
Hyde Park, Massachusetts (1932)

Rescue attempt after crash during auto race at Readville Race Track on Labor Day. Driver Al Frazier was killed in the crash, burned alive in his car.

Crash at Readville

4. Crash at Readville

Image number: 05_02_010464
Photographer: Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967
Hyde Park, Massachusetts (1932)

Auto in flames after crash at Readville Race Track on Labor Day. Driver Al Frazier was burned alive in his car.

Autos at Readville Race Track

5. Autos at Readville Race Track

Image number: 05_02_010465
Photographer: Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967
Hyde Park, Massachusetts (ca. 1930)

Race cars being prepared for race. Stands and parking lot are visible in the background. The Readville Race Track was located on the border of Hyde Park and Dedham.

Plate 24 of the 1912 Atlas for the City of Boston, Ward 26 Hyde Park, showing a section of the Readville Race Track

6. Plate 24 of the 1912 Atlas for the City of Boston, Ward 26 Hyde Park, showing a section of the Readville Race Track

Image number: 05_02_011113
Cartographer: Bromley, George Washington
Cartographer: Bromley, Walter Scott
Hyde Park, Massachusetts (1912)

Identified as Readville Trotting Park, bordered by the Neponset River Reservation, Boston & Providence Railroad tracks. Half the track is located in the town of Dedham.

Autos at Readville Race Track

7. Autos at Readville Race Track

Image number: 05_02_010466
Photographer: Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967
Hyde Park, Massachusetts (1932)

Crewmen work on cars on track before race.

Remarkable bird's-eye view of trotters at Readville

8. Remarkable bird's-eye view of trotters at Readville

Image number: 05_02_010593
Photographer: Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967
Hyde Park, Massachusetts (ca. 1920)

Fans watch as trotters race down the track.

Trotters at Readville Track

9. Trotters at Readville Track

Image number: 05_02_010594
Photographer: Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967
Hyde Park, Massachusetts (ca. 1920)

 
 
9 images found

Sports Temples of Boston: Images of Historic Ballparks, Arenas and Stadiums, 1872-1972
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