Chicago Cubs: Tour the locations of the franchise's previous ballparks
It is hard to imagine the Chicago Cubs calling a ballpark that is not Wrigley Field home. Since 1916 the team has hosted games at the corner of Clark and Addison, but prior to that, they had played at several other parks across the Chicagoland area since joining the National League in 1876.
These parks included 23rd Street Grounds (1876-1877), Lakefront Park (1878-1884), West Side Park (1885-1891), South Side Park (1891-1893), West Side Grounds (1893-1915)
Since these ballparks existed over 100 years ago, there is nobody alive to talk about the experiences of these places. There was also no television in those days and motion picture film was in its infancy, so all we have on these parks are still photos, drawings, and/or vague descriptions from newspaper publications. There is also virtually nothing physically remaining of these old parks.
We are now going to go on a tour, and explain where all these former Cubs ballparks once stood.
23rd Street Grounds
There is very little information about the first ballpark the franchise played in as members of the National League. No known photos or detailed images exist of this ballpark. We know that it was a wooden ballpark built around 23rd Street and State Street, just east of Chinatown. There had been several published exact locations in local newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune.
Most publications seem to put the park's location between 23rd and 24th Streets. It had been sometimes been described as west of Dearborn Street, which is a block west of State Street. This is the current location of the NTA Track & Turf Field. Other descriptions put it on the plot right next to that location between 23rd and 24th Streets along State Street. It also could have been just north of those locations, between Cermak and 23rd Street around where the National Teacher's Academy is today. It does seem like we can conclude the west side of the park was right along the railroad tracks by Federal Street. The sketchy history of 23rd Street Grounds is fascinating, and hopefully one day more information gets discovered about the long-lost ballpark.
This is an easy location to find, as Lakefront Park was located where Millenium Park is today. It was just near the corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street. For a long time, that area was made up of railyards and the ballpark was right next to those tracks. Being near an industrial area with lakefront winds, it was not a pleasant experience for fans in the stands. It's worth noting that in their pre-National League days, the team had built a ballpark in that same location known as the Union Base-Ball Grounds in 1871. That park was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire. Next time you go to Millenium Park, know you are standing on early baseball history.
West Side Park (I)
There were two West Side Parks the team played at. The first one was bound by Congress Parkway, Throop Street, Harrison Street, and Loomis Street. It was a box-shaped wooden ballpark with a bicycle track going around the field. Today the Andrew Jackson Language Academy sits at that location, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway is just north of it.
South Side Park
The team spent some select days playing at South Side Park in the early 1890s. The park was located right around 35th Street and Wentworth Avenue. According to some publications, it was bound by 33rd and 35th Streets This would put the location of the park right around where Comiskey Park would be later built in 1910. Today Guaranteed Rate Field stands next to the location.
West Side Grounds
The ballpark which was home of the 1907 and 1908 World Series champions, this one was located a few blocks southwest of the first West Side Park. It sat within the blocks of Taylor Street, Wolcott Avenue, Polk Street, and Wood Street. The wood and steel grandstand was located on the Wolcott and Polk Street side of the property with flats (with roof seating) outside the rightfield wall along Taylor Street. Today the UI Health Medical Center sits on the location, and there is a plaque at the site dedicated to the ballpark. A few blocks directly north of the location is the United Center, just on the other side of the Eisenhower Expressway.