Smith's Park

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Smith's Park in an 1898 map

Smith's Park was a race track and park ground developed by Joseph Riley Smith in 1879 on the eastern edge of his Smithfield residential development. He purchased the property from James Ware and eventually deeded it to the City of Birmingham.

The park was the site of various large events of the 1880s and 1890s such as the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, which encamped there on five occassions. It showed on maps through the mid 1920s and was indicated on the 1924 proposal by the Olmsted Brothers for "A Park System for Birmingham" as a "proposed park". It was later subdivided and developed for commercial use.

On January 16-January 17, 1906 the Sells & Downs Show, a 22-car circus managed by Martin J. Downs and wintering in Birmingham, was to be auctioned off at Smith's Park, including tents, cook-houses, railroad cars, wagons, cages, a steam calliope and a costume wardrobe along with an animal menagerie consisting of 40 draft horses, 40 ring horses, 2 somersault horses, 2 finish horses, 2 four-horse acts, 2 thoroughbred manage horses, 2 mules for hurdle acts, 2 four-horse chariot teams, and 16 hippodrome horses along with 2 performing female elephants, 6 camels, 2 male African lions, 3 lionesses, 2 lion cubs, 1 jaguar, 3 hyenas, 3 bears, 1 nygaul, 1 llama, 1 axis deer, 4 American deer, 20 monkeys, 12 Australian macaws, 1 elk, and 5 snakes. James A. Bailey of Barnum & Bailey's Circus entered a winning bid of $150,000 for the entire show, canceling the public auction. Downs continued as manager of the Cole Bros. United Shows.

References

  • "Will Winter in Birmingham" (December 1905) The Billboard