Ruins are often thought of as a tourist site such as the Ruins of Pompeii, the Acropolis or Delphi of Oracle. These are in distant places many of us can never see. They do have one thing in common and that is they were places mankind gathered. The area is imprinted with that activity with not only the remains of the structures but of the vibrations that do not dissipate over time. In some cases they become more powerful and draw us to them.
Longacres has been a ruin for only about 20 years. A horse racetrack of fame built in the 1930s and leveled due to economic hardship in the early 1990s. This place carries many good and sad times. It has heard the cheers of victory, the cries of defeat and the thundering of hooves. The humans and animals cross over many generations, fashion, and even war and peace. If you would like to read more about the history of the racetrack here is a link to HistoryLink.org –History of Longacres
When I started documenting the two entrance units that are visibly standing there was a huge interest in the site. These two units are the only real standing things that are visible to those that casually pass through. With that in mind I returned with my camera and a few reference photos to see what I could find. Not much unlike an archaeologist seeking a long-lost place or time to investigate.
What I found surprised me and it will you too. So, come along on my quest to find the lost Longacres Racetrack. There is so much to see that I have broken it down into three parts:
- The Foundations
- The Green Wall
- The Track
To give you an overview of the site, I took a video from the raised platform on the Light Rail Station. It faces east and starts with the south end panning to the north. You will see several areas that will be covered starting with the two old poplars next to the Jockey House and the rock pile which is where I found a tile where the Club House is. It then moves over the original grandstand area. Notice the black fencing which is a Boeing built path from its campus to the Light Rail Station. Then in the distance you will see jersey barriers of the North Grandstands. In the distance to the north is the parking lot and freeway. Under the freeway are the entrance units where I started my investigation from. (here is a link to that post – Longacres Relics)
To start the foundations adventure we will go to the parking lot. When you drive down into this area behind the Boeing Campus you will see what is called overflow parking and some construction around the light rail station. Do not be fooled. This is the original Longacres Parking Lot.
To give you some bearing on where this is I took a short 360 degree video. Note the two entrance units under the interstate freeway (I-405) as a way to get your bearings.
Walking south towards the fence that separates this parking lot from the light rail station you will come upon concrete slabs hiding in the underbrush and small trees. This area is protected from the thoroughfare by jersey barriers but one can easily walk around and on top of the area. To the naked eye it looks like just another piece of the parking lot but you will notice it is raised in several places.
As I walked to my surprise I found the first of several patches of red tile. Yes there was something special in these places that the tile is still attached to the concrete slab. Now you can imagine the footsteps that trod over these tiles and see in your mind how it was a place of excitement instead of this desolate neglected site.
Traveling south I come across an area that is white modern concrete. It is the North Grandstand built in 1982 that replaced temporary bleachers and helped capture the overflowing crowds that thrilled to the horses blowing by them. It goes on for many feet but is very intact in its cement foundation way. I like to think of Longacres to be like an add-on house that grew as the family blossomed. This north end is the add-on in multiple stages to accommodate everyone.
As I walked back to my car that day I took this video walking north from this staircase towards the entrance units. This will give you a good idea of how the overall appearance of the foundations on the north side appear today (Spring 2016).
This is where I mistakenly thought I had been on the original grandstand and turned my attention elsewhere in the ruins. I was so wrong. When I got home and did my research comparing photos I realized my mistake and went back to the site. That second visit I found the real Longacres Racetrack of old.
This grandstand is almost 80 years old and Boeing has built a path from its campus to the Light Rail Station that carves through the north edge of it. Here you are surrounded by more red tile. Bill Taylor gave me a little bit of info on the red tile after I posted this. Here is what he said – “A lot of the red tile was at the entrance to the main office area, Morrie’s office and atrium, the family conference room and some of the main line.” That sure dispels what I heard someone say.. “it is the bathrooms”. I never believed that. This area sure makes one has to realize you are in a place of another time. Some may not even know the history nor care but to ponder what was lost and gone is important. Yes, how could we so quickly discard our history for being modern or make more money?
I wandered around in the bushes trying to get the bearings of what was and followed along the edge of the area behind a fence but in an old parking lot. There was a pile of rocks on an area and more red tiles. My gut tells me I am now in the old Clubhouse. One of the tiles had been pulled up and so I picked it up. To my delight it was made in Italy.
This tile is made in an area of Italy that is famous for tiles and I am going to send a picture to one of the manufacturer to see if they can confirm the date and maker of this tile.
As I worked my way around I came to two old lombardy poplars and some more cement items left hanging out.
As I neared the track I encountered more of the green railing and decided I must be down by the Jockey House. That was when I met Tina and her dog. They were walking along like they have for years. She sort of adopted me and my quest and showed me more things that I had missed. We walked up the racetrack back to the Boeing path and then came back to where I found the tile.
She next showed me more tile around where the Jockey House was. Different than the red tiles and I think they are bathroom and shower floors. At least that is my assumption.
At the end I got up on the Light Rail Station and took a series of photos from south to north. This slide show will give you a good idea of what this older end looks like. For reference first look at an aerial view of the buildings.
Now that I have set the foundations out for you I am going to move to the green wall. This is a huge piece of the ruins that are still standing. They are buried in the woods now and one has to get into the brambles to find. You can find The Green Wall at this link Longacres Ruins Green Wall