Norwood Park Circle - Old Racetrack?

On the far northwest side of Chicago lies a oval section of street known as the Norwood Circle, West Circle and East Circle. I was told by my father and grandfather, both ardent horse racing fans and readers of history that this circular area was originally a type of “bush” or practice race track many many years ago. I have not been able to find anything related to this elsewhere. I have driven the circle and found it to be a bit over a mile in distance so this seems believable and they both were well versed in Chicago history. Does anyone know anything about this?

This seems quite unlikely. In 1861, the land in question was owned by several different people, and by 1870 the Norwood Park Land & Improvement Company had purchased six farms and laid out a “country” suburb with curving streets and sold off lots.

Also, wouldn’t it be quite unusual for a racetrack to be laid out as an ellipse, with no straightaways?

Interesting question. The lots sold for the development, back in 1869-70, were priced at $100-300 each. The houses were build for about $4000 each.

Searching the Chicago Tribune for the period doesn’t turn up anything about a racetrack, BUT, when the Norwood Park Presbyterian Church celebrated their 100th Annivesary in 1971, the Trib had to say

I’ll have to investigate further…

Thanks Samclem. I was told that it was a type of bush track or practice track; it definitely wasn’t a major racetrack. Your lead sounds promising and I will look into it as well. Very neat.

My grandmother was born in 1918 in a bungalow on Neva, she also tells stories of the horse races on East & West Circle in Norwood Park. She said that people would come from all over the city to watch the races. It sounds like it was an informal track, but I’ll ask her more about it- her memory is amazing and when we take her for a drive in the area, she names the people who lived in the houses and tells the greatest stories! I’ll get the scoop- and take notes this time!