News 12 The Bronx visits Morris Park Racecourse, explores history in honor of borough's centennial
THE BRONX - News 12 The Bronx took a trip to Morris Park in honor of the borough's centennial.
The Morris Park Racecourse was the premier horse racing track in the country when it opened its gates in 1889. Businessman and lottery king John A. Morris transformed the open farmland into a hotspot for high-rollers and thoroughbreds.
At its peak in the late 1800s, the track hosted the Belmont Stakes, but its declining reputation took it out of the running in 1904. After the Belmont Stakes moved to Long Island, the track had a short stint as an auto racing track and held the country's first air show.
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The Morris Park Train Station was meant to bring people to the races, but by the time the New Haven Rail Road finished building it, the race track had already closed down.
The area was pretty much German-Irish until Italian-Americans began moving in from Arthur Avenue and other parts of Belmont in the late 1950s.
This second generation started their journey toward the American dream, and that sense of possibility lives on today.