Friday, November 17, 2006
Phoenix Trotting Park: A Photo Essay
Since leaving Arizona in July of 2003 I have made the trek back and forth for holidays and various reasons. Every time I have made the drive I also notice, off the I-10 near Goodyear an amazing horse track about 20 miles on the outskirts of Phoenix. It's the first building other than Snyder's Pretzel's that tells me I am almost done with the drive. Last time I took the drive, after three years of driving by the thing, I finally decided to pull over and see it for myself. I always thought it was interesting as a piece of abandoned architecture but over the years as my palate for architecture has developed I realized what a stunning piece of Mid-Century Modernism it really was.
I pulled up on a No Tresspassing dirt road and hopped the fence. The first structure I came across was the building with the folded plate roof. It overlooked where the track must have been but now a grouping of abandoned trailers. My thoery was this was for the press or for private members. The track itself, which I was later to learn as called Phoenix Trotting Park, was a wonder in poured concrete and space age design. I entered the building and began walking up a long flight of stairs, I think I went up about six stories before I got too freaked out for my safety being alone as I was. With all the really tough Cypress Hill graffiti I didn't want to encounter some gang initiation or a scene out of The Birds. Many of the structual elements remain intact but almost everything apart from that is either destroyed or covered in bird shit.
I did some research and this is a compilation of the the information (word) I have found:
"The Phoenix Trotting Park, a horse racing track, was originally built in 1964 in Goodyear, Arizona. It opened in 1965 and was run for about two and a half seasons. The large, futuristically designed structure gave an optimistic look for the 1960s. It was originally supposed to be built for $3 million, but after Italian architects and contractors were brought in it wound up closer to $10 million, essentially bankrupting its builder, James Dunnigan, who had operated Buffalo Raceway. It was built of reinforced concrete, and could have withstood a direct hit by a hydrogen bomb... It is still standing, and some future travelers from space probably will regard it in the same way Stonehenge in Britain is regarded today... a monument built in the desert by sun worshipers. Sad story from start to finish." -Stan Bergstein
In 1998, movie crews chose the site to film an explosion for the movie "No Code of Conduct." No Code of Conduct is an action film involving cops and drug dealers. American Humane Association had been informed by production that there were no animals being used in the filming. Therefore, AHA was not on set and was not involved in the monitoring of any animals involved in the production.
The script called for the explosion of a drug warehouse at the end of the film and production chose to use an abandoned building at Phoenix Trotting Park in Goodyear, AZ. During the filming of the special effects explosion, hundreds of birds that were indigenous to the location were injured and killed. Although AHA was told by a production spokesperson that the company had attempted to clear the area and the building of the birds, there were several hundred birds still in the building at the time the explosives were detonated. According to a media source at the time of the incident, a representative from Arizona Department of Fish and Game approved the explosion. -ahafilm.info