Allston, July 2014


beacon park yard, allston  (sonya kovacic)

beacon park yard, allston (sonya kovacic)

Before it was converted to Beacon Park Rail Yard in the 1890s, the site between BU and the Massachusetts Turnpike was known as Beacon Park Trotting Yard. Founded in 1864, the yard was one of Boston's first and most popular race tracks. It could get pretty crowded — some days, up to 20,000 spectators came to see the horse races.

The venue was also home to some feature performances, including Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West. The traveling show had it all: horseback riders in exotic costumes, wild buffalo, stagecoach robberies, and battles between "Cowboys and Indians". Additionally, many famous westerners got their start in the show, including Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane.

During Cody's stays, the show's animals were kept nearby in the Brighton Stockyards, and then herded along Lincoln Street to perform. During one peculiar trek to Beacon Park, a big dog managed to scare the buffalo — scattering them throughout the neighborhood. They could be seen roaming around the streets of Brighton, until finally being rounded up by Cody's men on horseback.

Beacon Park Yard officially closed to rail traffic in 2013, and due to a rerouting of the Mass Pike, the neighborhood will soon be ready for new development. There's no shortage of ideas, either — according to The Globe, suggestions include new housing units, a Harvard expansion, a park, a Boston Marathon memorial, an Olympic stadium, and a new "West Station" linking Allston and Cambridge by rail.