Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lost history, recovered

Here is the first photograph I have ever seen which clearly shows Wallace's Ridgewood Park, a little known ballfield barely over the border in Queens. The park was, for a few years in the 1880s, used by the Dodgers as a venue for Sunday matches to dodge Brooklyn's blue laws. In 1905 the local Ridgewood Club took on and defeated the World Series champion Giants here, 5 to 2.

If the version in the photo hardly looks major league, there is a reason. The stands burned to the ground in 1917, and were replaced only after William Wallace tried to sell the land and failed. By then, his main tenants, the semipro Brooklyn Bushwicks, had moved to Dexter Park. Wallace's Grounds were never the same after that, and are seen here in 1922.

I found this photo yesterday at the New York Public Library site, amongst many photographs of ordinary city streets taken by the historian Eugene Armbruster in the 1920s. I am grateful beyond words for his wonderful work.

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