Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hollywood Park History

It ain't in Hollywood, but it's about to be razed and rebuilt if the powers-that-be can agree on a profitable model. What those powers (actually, Inglewood City Council members) are discussing now is a mix of shops, eateries, movie theaters, homes, offices, a school and an upgraded casino...but no race track. Yet it would be called Hollywood Park Tomorrow.

Apparently, the race track itself attracts only about 8000 folks per racing day. You can read about it here, in the Daily Breeze. The company that bought Hollywood Park in 2005 (Stockbridge RE Funds) is proposing a $2-3 Billion plan to redevelop the land, sans track.

The racing season starts in about a month (April 22) but related stories tell us that the budget for purses have already be slashed. I'd rather stay home and watch the Marx Brothers race in A Day at the Races (which was filmed at Santa Anita in 1937).

This picture is from the Los Angeles Library's collection. Cary Grant--who looks gorgeous in the bright sun--visited in 1941, just before World War 2 started. The track closed during the war and was converted to storage for the war effort. The grandstand in this picture burned down in 1949 and was rebuilt the next year.

For the record, the Park maintains its own history site. The track opened on June 10, 1938, through the efforts of the Hollywood Turf Club--led by Jack L. Warner and 600 other investors. According to the Wikipedia entry, the Turf Club morphed into Hollywood Park Inc, a publicly-traded NYSE entity, in 1992. Eight years later the name changed to Pinnacle Entertainment.

This lovely picture is of the Club House BEFORE the racetrack opened. Again, it's from the Library's Shades of LA collection, and is dated Christmas, 1937. The address is given too: 1050 South Prairie Avenue.

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