Ruins of Longacres Racetrack – The Green Wall

At the Longacres Racetrack ruins there is an artifact still standing. It is the wall that separated the roaring crowd from the thundering hooves of the track. It was painted green to match the hedges that were neatly maintained along the track and had a metal rail on top of it.  That rail is gone but the cement part is alive and well. This is a Google map snip showing the distance it covers between two arrows.  It also will give you a good view of the entire Longacres Racetrack ruins.

Google map of Longacres Racetrack showing distance green wall is still intact
Google map of Longacres Racetrack showing distance green wall is still intact

Today over 20 years after all the buildings were razed, this wall still stands commemorating the thrill many had at this site. When I first saw it I was amazed by how it had survived the years despite the moss, trees, and brambles that have overgrown it. Little did I know as I followed it from North to South I would encounter almost 1,000 feet of it. It has only one large gap where Boeing pushed a maintenance road and path through it. Join me in going down memory lane as we walk along. Think of the sounds and emotions that have sunk into its concrete over the 60 years of house racing it saw.

Here is the very northern end of the wall. It has some electrical and post hanging on it that must have been night lights. Below the picture is a photo sent to me by Bill Taylor when I started my Longacres documentation.  He got it from Doug Clark of Four Footed Fotos, who has been the track photographer at Longacres, Churchill Downs and many other well-known tracks.

Northern end of wall with electrical hanging - Longacres Racetrack
Northern end of wall with electrical hanging – Longacres Racetrack
Photo of Longacres entrance units and parking lot - from Doug Clark of Four Footed Fotos
North end of Longacres – green wall end is near the tractors – from Doug Clark of Four Footed Fotos

Now imagine how the grandstands you see in this photo are gone. Nature has grown up and around all the concrete. This next series of photos is what it looks like today if you were standing on the spectator side.

After I walked around the north end I traveled down the actual racetrack. That was when I got goosebumps. Imagine the years of horses and jockeys parading, racing and breathing on this piece of ground. Today in 2016 the green wall marks that something special existed here.

Longacres Racetrack looking south from north end with view of green wall
Longacres Racetrack looking south from north end with view of green wall

Where that red netting in the distance is marks the middle of the complex. That is where the original grandstand, Club House and Jockey House stood. Boeing has pushed a maintenance road through this area. Along side of that road is a lighted path for employees to get to the Light Rail Station. You saw that in “The Foundations” post as it crossed the north end of the original buildings.

Near there is where I found that gate still attached to the wall. I have looked at a lot of photos online but cannot quite put my finger on what this was. Any help would be appreciated.

Broken gate and Boeing walkway thru original Longacres grandstand
Broken gate and Boeing walkway thru original Longacres grandstand
Green wall and gate at Longacres Racetrack - near original grandstand
Green wall and gate at Longacres Racetrack – near original grandstand
Wall and gate at Longacres Racetrack ruins
Wall and gate at Longacres Racetrack ruins

Tina who I met on my second visit showed me how to duck under the netting and a little way to the south I found what I think is where the finish line was. If I have this correct it is where the original grandstand met the Club house. From examining the foundations this gap in the wall makes me think it is the place.

Finish Line from grandstand side - Longacres Racetrack Ruins
Finish Line from grandstand side – Longacres Racetrack Ruins

Around this area the homeless or partying have left their mark. A huge concrete block that must have been a light standard has a bike helmet and other items strewn about. This also shows you how the Light Rail Station is in the distance.

Cement light post block on west side of Green Wall - Longacres
Cement light post block on west side of Green Wall – Longacres
Path back to Club House & site of found Italian Tile
Path back to Club House & site of found Italian Tile

To get your imagination going more, here is a snapshot of cement flooring on the grandstand side of the wall. This was where many cheered, cried and threw down their losing bet tickets.

Cement flooring near Green Wall - mid racetrack
Cement flooring near Green Wall – mid racetrack

Moving along there is a rather large graffiti piece that was left in the last year or two.

Graffiti on Longacres Green Wall Ruins
Graffiti on Longacres Green Wall Ruins

This next section I think it is just crumbling and knocked over from the trees but it also has the look of being cut out like this.

Crumbling Green Wall - Longacres Racetrack ruins
Crumbling Green Wall – Longacres Racetrack ruins

Another oddity in the wall is this opening with a curb type structure. This is close to the Club House best I can determine.

Wall with low curb near Longacres Club House site
Wall with low curb near Longacres Club House site

As we passed through this area on the track side Tina’s dog lunged toward an opening in the wall. It was a small garter snake who was not happy with him. What I find interesting of this shot of the snake is the round cement structure on the wall with an iron bar coming out.  What is that?

Green wall post with snake
Green wall post with snake (the snake is in the center of the photo)

This brings us to the southern end. As I stated in the Foundations section the Jockey House has a pair of large poplar trees to mark its southern end. This was helpful when trying to figure out where things were.  Here is a photo of them with a construction crane, the Light Rail Station and of course the green wall.

Old Poplars, crane and wall at south end of Longacres Racetrack ruins
Old Poplars, crane and wall at south end of Longacres Racetrack ruins

Off the right of this area (north for those keeping track) is this strange opening with protection on the two ends.  I don’t think this was done by Boeing during the demolition but I imagine it was to protect the horses and jockeys as they passed through the gap.

Green wall with protection near Jockey House - North side of opening
Green wall with protection near Jockey House – North side of opening
Green wall with protection near Jockey House
Green wall with protection near Jockey House

As we get closer to the end of the run the small poplar sucker trees dissipate and it is more of an  open field.  This first picture below you can see those small trees clustered around the wall.  In the second photo it may not have trees but it does have a big blackberry bush brier.  See how there is concrete here on the non-track side this photo is taken from. Two landmarks in these photos; one is the bird platform built for nesting osprey and the other is a reddish tree. The red tree is about the end of the wall.

Wall south end Racetrack - bird platform in distance
Wall south end Racetrack – bird platform in distance
Longacres wall south end under blackberries
Longacres wall south end under blackberries

And you knew this was coming… the end of the wall.  Hope you enjoyed your 1,000 feet of green wall.

 

Southern end of wall - Longacres Racetrack
Southern end of wall – Longacres Racetrack

Now it is time to jump the wall and  move to the all important track itself. This is where the action took place. I would say about half of it still exists in some form or other if you look at the aerial photo at the top of this post.   You can find The Track here – Ruins of Longacres – The Track.

For those that stumbled upon the Wall first here is a link to The Foundations Longacres Ruins – The Foundations.  Then there is the first post that started all this, my post on the old entrance units under the freeway – Longacres Relics

2 thoughts on “Ruins of Longacres Racetrack – The Green Wall

  1. It was so much fun. I was just thinking that from 1972-1992 I must have been to Longacres over 1,000 times to be with my friends. We were all so sick when the kids sold out for the money. As soon as their grandpa & dad died they sold it so they could spend the money. It destroyed the horse racing industry in Washington to a point that it has never really came back. I go there sometimes when I am in Seattle & walk the homestretch & swear I can hear Gary Henson calling the names of Trooper Seven, Chum Salmon, Turbulator, Best Hitter, System Mistem & my favorite horse Lucky Seas who was a cheap $6250 claimer that for several years he would win his first race of the year.
    So many great memories & some of the best times of my life. It is like I was so much a part of history. I don’t know why security always seemed bothered but why do they care if us old guys want to remember the past good times of our life. I wish my ashes could be spread by the finish line.
    You talked about the green wall well a lot of the wires you see were for the timing of races. I think the one on the North end was where there was one furlong to go! There was a gap in the green wall as there was the judges platform & where they took pictures by the finish line.

    1. Steve thank you so much for your kind comments. When those that lived and breathed Longacres send more information that just makes my project more robust for saving the history.

      If you have any photos or other things to add do contact me. I have not been there in awhile but keep thinking a revisit is in order.

      R

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