The Schiller Park Greyhound Track
While coming home from an event in Rosemont on Tuesday, I stopped for a light at the intersection of Lawrence Ave. and Mannheim Road (US 12), which is on the eastern edge of O'Hare International Airport and (I think) happens to be in the small suburb of Schiller Park. I noticed a sign I'd never noticed before, and I happened to have a camera handy. Normally I'd take such a picture for reference only, but it turned out reasonably well, considering it was taken on an overcast day through a car windshield. So here it is.
Former Site of Dog Track • Raced Greyhounds • Schiller Park Historical Commission (Bullet points added.)
So a dog track used to be here. O'Hare was built in the 1950s, so it must have been before that. Maybe on clear, moonless nights when the traffic isn't so heavy, you can stand near the sign and hear the faint baying of ghostly hounds, forever rounding the track to the cheers of Depression-era working men.
Curiously, according to testimony heard by the U.S. Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce in 1950, "During the heyday of Al Capone, the Capone syndicate was in control of dog tracks in virtually every part of the country... The Capone syndicate czar of dog racing during that period was Edward J. O'Hare, who was killed in gang warfare in Chicago on November 9, 1939."
Edward "Easy Eddie" O'Hare testified against Capone in the early '30s and for that, we can be sure, he eventually bought the farm. He was also father of the fighter pilot Edward "Butch" O'Hare, for whom the airport is named, and who didn't live much longer than his dad, since he was killed in action in the Pacific in late 1943.
It seems likely that the Schiller Park dog track would have been in the orbit of the elder O'Hare. For all I know, the track might have been small potatoes to him, but he surely must have visited on occasion. I doubt that he could ever imagined something so important in the area would someday have the same name as him, though honoring his son.