Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures

Designers: Aufferth, Charles J., Interior Designer (firm); Barlow, Frederick, Jr., Landscape Architect (firm); Clements, Stiles, and Associates, Architects-Engineers (firm); Froehlich, Arthur, and Associates, Architects (firm); Morgan, Walls and Clements, Architects (firm); Charles John Aufferth Jr. (interior designer); Frederick Barlow Jr. (landscape architect); Stiles Oliver Clements (architect); Maury I. Diggs (building contractor); Arthur Froehlich (architect); Octavius Weller Morgan Sr. (architect); John A. Walls (architect)

Dates: constructed 1937-1938

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1000 South Prairie Avenue
Inglewood, CA 90301

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The race track occupied a parcel bounded by West Century Boulevard on the south, South Prairie Avenue on the west, Pincay Drive on the north, and Varus/Scipio Drives on the east.


This race track hosted thoroughbred and harness racing during its 75-year life. It occupied extensive acreage in Inglewood, CA, what had become an independent city apart from Los Angeles in 1908. Hollywood Park became a fashionable entertainment spot before and after World War II, although horse racing declined in popularity after 1960. Various reasons can be cited for horse racing's decline: Many other forms of wagering became preferred, including a plethora of in-person and online sports betting; a rise in the concern for the ethical treatment of thoroughbreds; and horse-racing tracks became gradually surrounded by suburban development, making their real estate values too lucrative for investors to ignore.

Hollywood Park, opened in 1938, was one of several large horse racing tracks erected in CA after the repeal of the ban on horse racing in 1933. These tracks included Bay Meadows Racetrack (opened in 1934), Santa Anita Park (1934), and Del Mar Racetrack (1937). For most of its existence (up until 1984), the track was one mile in length, but this was extended to 1 ⅛ miles.

Building History

As noted by Roger Dunstan, gambling in America has had three spurts of intense interest followed by legal prohibitions to curb fraud and abuse. As per Dunstan, the first phase occurred between the 1600s and mid-1800s. In respect to horse racing, the first track prepared in the US, according to this author, was one built on Long Island by 1665. The second wave of gambling occurred between the mid-1800s and 1900, and was sharply curtailed during the moral awakening of the Progressive Era. The third period began during the Depression, when many of the Progressive Era bans were curtailed. One might argue that the passing of Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, outlawing most gambling on professional and amateur sporting events, marked the end of this third phase, and set the stage for another, even more potent one. On 05/14/2018 the Supreme Court issued its Murphy v. NCAA ruling that made the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act unconstitutional. This decision opened the way for a cascade of sports betting, enabling such companies as DraftKings and Fan Duel to expand rapidly. Since 2018, one might argue that the US has been in an accelerated fourth gambling phase, fueled by online sports gambling. (See Roger Dunstan, University of North Carolina,, "Gambling in California," accessed 06/15/2023.)

Horse racing became a favorite past-time for California's wealthy during the 19th century, and various tracks came and went before 1900. Large-scale and sustained horse racing venues began to appear during after the Civil War. The Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Spring began operations on 08/03/1863, Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore opened on 10/25/1870, and Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY, on 05/17/1875. In California, horse racing occurred in conjunction with fairs and other celebrations and was usually not sustained. The earliest semi-permanent tracks, though not as large as the East Coast venues, were located in the largest cities. San Francisco had the Pioneer Race Track, that opened 03/1851 and operated until 1862 or 1863 and the Union Race Course, that began operations in the early 1850s and lasted until 07/18/1863. Oakland had its Oakland Trotting Park in Emeryville, CA, that inaugurated racing in 1871. Larger and more modern horse racing tracks opened in the Bay Area included the Ingleside Racetrack, San Francisco, that started racing on 11/28/1895, and Tanfaran Park, (later respelled as "Tanforan"), San Bruno, CA, that initiated it on 11/04/1899. The Oakland Trotting Park was rebuilt and renamed as the "New California Jockey Club" in 1896. In Southern CA, the landowner and hotel builder Elias Jackson "Lucky" Baldwin (1828-1909) had long enjoyed horse racing. He opened a track on his property near Arcadia, CA, known as the first Santa Anita Park in 1904.

Racing continued in CA until 02/04/1909, when Progressive Era legislators took aim at vice statewide and passed the Walker-Otis Bill, a ban on horse-racing and, by extension, gambling. The prohibition took aim at closing Lucky Baldwin's Santa Anita Park #1 and the California Jockey Club in Emeryville, specifically. This ban on horse racing lasted between 1911 and 1933, when the state legislature passed the California Horse Racing Act in 1933. This act let voters decide whether or not the CA State Constitution should be amended to allow the resumption of the sport. The act passed in 06/1933.

Perhaps an impetus to restart horse racing in CA may have been the opening of the modern Agua Caliente Race Track and Hotel in Tijuana, Mexico, on 12/28/1929. This venue attracted many Americans just south of the San Diego border, including the glamorous Hollywood set.

The passing of the California Horse Racing Act of 1933 stimulated a surge of very large, modern venues to be opened, particularly in fast-growing Southern CA. First was Bay Meadows Race Track in San Mateo, CA, that opened on 11/13/1934 (and closing in 2008). Not far behind, the Los Angeles Turf Club, led by movie director Hal Roach (1892-1992) and Charles H. Strub (1884-1958), opened the second Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA, designed by the Los Angeles architect Gordon B. Kaufman (1888-1949). Other tracks opened in rapid succession: Crooner Bing Crosby and his associates opened Del Mar Racetrack in Del Mar, CA, on 07/03/1937, and Hollywood Park opened on 06/10/1938. After Hollywood Park, Golden Gate Fields, in Berkeley, CA, started on 02/01/1941.

The Warner Brothers--Jack L. Warner (1892-1978) and Harry Morris Warner (1881-1958)--took a leading role in the formation of the Hollywood Turf Club and the development of the Hollywood Park Race Track. They interested other movie industry executives and actors to pool their money to start the enterprise. Animator and filmmaker Walt E. Disney (1901-1966) was one of the of Hollywood celebrities who became a member of the Hollywood Park Turf Club. (See Michael Barrier, The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney, [Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007], p. 134.) Other studio executives included Samuel Goldwyn and producer Darryl Zanuck, and a host of directors and actors such as Mervyn Le Roy (1900-1987), Raoul Walsh (1887-1980), Bing Crosby (1903-1977), George Jessel (1898-1981), Ralph Bellamy (1904-1991), Al Jolson (1886-1950), Irene Dunne (1898-1990), Wallace Beery (1885-1949) and Joan Blondell (1906-1979). The track's opening became a highly publicized spectacle filled with politicians, actors and other celebrities.

In 1938, observers viewed Hollywood Park as a natural rival of Santa Anita. An article in Collyer's Eye and the Baseball World stated on 11/20/1937: "While Santa Anita prepares to open what promises to be a banner meeting on Christmas Day, with a minimum purse offering serving to attract practically all of the best horses in traiing, preparations are going forward slowly, but none-the-less surely, for the construction of another Los Angeles race track, specifically that of the Hollywood Turf Club, at nearby Inglewood. Carleton Burke, chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, has spiked all efforts of the Inglewood track to obtain racing dates as yet, though consenting to grant a meeting with Bing Crosby's Del-Mar track last Summer. One plan of the Hollywood Turf Club is to stage its inaugural meeting during the 'off' of Summer season next year, thus establishing its identity and providing ammunition for what may result in something of a turf war next winter. It is extremely unlikely that any conflict with Santa Anita will be attempted this Winter." (See "Complete Stables at New Los Angeles Track," Collyer's Eye and the Baseball World, vol. 23. no. 35, 11/20/1937, p. 5.)

This writer noted the construction progress that had been undertaken in Inglewood on Hollywood Park by 11/20/1937: "Recent indisposition of Architect Maury I. Diggs, and his consequent withdrawal from the [Hollywood Park] project, has not hampered the construction of the plant. which its is said, will almost equal that of the Arcadia bonanza. Stiles O. Clements, prominent Los Angeles designer, has picked up where Diggs was forced to relinquish his work and everything possible is being done to speed the work, even though the all-important question of racing dates is held in abeyance. Architecturally, the plant will be one of the most beautiful, not only in this sector, but elsewhere in the country--the preliminary plans called for a host of innovations that are calculated to make the plant one of the most well-appointed anywhere. That the Hollywood Turf Club is sincere in its effort to go ahead is seen with the virtual completion of work on stables that will accommodate 1,600 horses. In addition, the groundwork for the grandstand and other structure [sic] is progressing nicely and indications are that the track will be ready for racing this Winter if some adjustment in dates is completed." (See "Complete Stables at New Los Angeles Track," Collyer's Eye and the Baseball World, vol. 23. no. 35, 11/20/1937, p. 5.)

It appears that Diggs had to be released by the Hollywood Turf Club otherwise it would not have been able to get licensed by Carleton F. Burke (1882-1962) and California Horse Racing Board. The Pomona Progress Bulletin newspaper reported on testimony of Carleton Burke before the State Assembly Audit-Finance Committee hearings on California Horse Racing Board administration and California race track operations: “Burke testified one of his objections to a second Southern California race track proposed by the Hollywood Turf Club was that Maury I. Diggs of San Francisco was to receive about 12 per cent, or about $108,000, for supervising building and architectural work. He said he did not consider this ‘fair to investors.’ Committee counsel Leo Friedman promptly asked Burke whether he could see ‘any difference’ between this contract and the Santa Anita track’s arrangement whereby Dr. Charles Strub was given an option of $12,000 yearly and 10 per cent of the profits, or a straight 20 per cent of the profits. ‘Well, the racing business gets criticism enough now,’ said Burke. ‘We didn’t want any heavy promotion charges against the new track.’” (See “Bookies Closed Tho Phone Not,” Pomona Progress Bulletin, 12/18/1936, p. 1.)

During World War II, between 1942 and 1944, Hollywood Park closed for racing, and was requisitioned for war-use purposes by the North American Aviation (NAA), based in Los Angeles. NAA made the B-25 bomber and the P-51 Mustang fighter among other models. The track reopened after the war, but faced a serious fire in 1949 that required its reconstruction. The architect Arthur Froehlich worked on this rebuilding, collaborating with the landscape architect Fred Barlow, Jr., (and the interior designer, Charles J. Aufferth (1892-1978).

During the 1960s through 1990s, Marjorie Ann Lindheimer "Marje" Everett (1921-2012) served as a Hollywood Park administrator, getting things done in part by introducing nightime racing and innovating horse racing wagering and in part through her extensive network of business and political connections. Prior to coming to CA, Everett ran Chicago Thoroughbred Enterprises, Incorporated, an entity founded by her adoptive father Benjamin Franklin Lindheimer (1889-1960), that owned the Arlington Park, Washington Park and Balmoral Park tracks. In the Fall of 1968, Everett sold her Chicago Thoroughbred Enterprises, Incorporated, holdings to the Gulf and Western entertainment conglomerate for between $25 and $32 million (and also got stock in Hollywood Park). Being a stockholder, she eventually leveraged her ownership share into leadership positions, becoming Hollywood Park's director in 1972 and chief executive officer by 1985. Everett succeeded in maintaining her control over the Hollywood Park Board during the tumultuous 1980s, and a late-decade fight with investor Thomas W. Gamel (1940-2015), but was finally forced out by another new investor, Randall Dee Hubbard (1935-2020), in 04/1991. (See Whitney Tower, Sports, "The Racing Lady of Chicago," published 08/20/1962, accessed 06/16/2023 and Whitney Tower, Sports, "Marje's Late, Late Show," published 09/15/1969, accessed 06/16/2023.)

During the 1980s and 1990s, uncertainty clouded the fate of Hollywood Park. The value of the land became too great and outside investors bought into track operations in order to get control of some of its real estate. Various board machinations and infighting plagued Hollywood Park's ownership during this period. New amenities were added to the property over the years, including the first Hollywood Park Casino in 1994, but the value of the land kept rising. In 1994-1995, investors floated the idea of building a football stadium on Hollywood Park land to entice the Los Angeles Raiders to remain in the city, but this effort failed.

Hubbard maintained control over Hollywood Park, and made several attempts to use company funds to diversify into card rooms and other gambling ventures. Under his leadership, losses mounted. On 09/10/1999, Louisville-based Churchill Downs Incorporated, bought Hollywood Park and its Casino for about $140 million, controlling it until 07/2005. The Bay Meadows Land Company, a subsidiary of the Stockbridge Capital Group, bought Hollywood Park for about $260 million. It sold off some of the property for the Inglewood Renaissance housing tract, started in 2005. At the same time, Hollywood Park tried to diversify its racing options by creating a turf course and sprint races in 2005-2006. By 2013, the value of the land, again, made it impossible for Hollywood Park's owners to resist "highest, best use" development. The last race occurred on 12/22/2013, and the racing complex was leveled in 2014.

Building Notes

On 12/05/1936, the Los Angeles Times reported that Jack L. Maddux served as the general manager of the Hollywood Turf Club, while Maurice E. McLoughlin was its secretary, Claud R. Andrews, its attorney, and Maury I. Diggs, its architect. (See "Racing Heads to Testify," Los Angeles Times, vol. LVI, 12/05/1936, p. 1.)

In 2011, Hollywood Park's race course had a 1.811 km dirt oval track and a 1.6 km turf oval. The grandstand could seat 10,000. A cushion track racing surface was installed c. 2010 and enabled this track to meet the Horse Racing Boards guidelines. The first Breeders' Cup was held at Hollywood Park.


Arthur Froelich, who developed something of a specialty designing horse-racing facilities, worked at Hollywood Park.


The large Hollywood Park complex was demolished gradually between 2014 and 2016. The grandstand was destroyed on 05/2015 and the Hollywood Park Casino #1 in 10/2016. These demolitions occurred to clear the land for a new Los Angeles Rams football stadium, who declared their intention to return from Saint Louis on 01/12/2016. In 2023, this $5.5 billion stadium was known as "SoFi Stadium" and served both the Rams and the newly relocated Los Angeles Chargers.

PCAD id: 11282