About Buena Park – Cricket Hill

The Lincoln Park Commissioners first planned a bobsled hill as part of the landfill extension between Montrose and Foster in 1929. The Great Depression hindered their progress, however, and the landfill work in this area did not resume until the late 1930s. In 1948, the Chicago Park District moved forward with the plans to build this artificial hill. In early March of 1950 the Chicago Tribune reported that the first good snow had occurred since the completion of the hill and many sleds had begun trips down the hill.

The Chicago Park District completed a $2 million upgrade of the area around the hill by adding an artificial turf field just north of the hill and striping for lacrosse, soccer and football. The field is encircled by an eight-lane, marked running track that is fit for state high school competitions. The park district also added ADA accessible sidewalks, concrete bleachers, shade trees and fencing to the area.

Cricket Hill tops out at about 45 feet high and hosts the annual Chicago Kids and Kites Festival.

There are two histories of the Cricket Hill name. The less glamorous view is that prior to the creation of the sledding hill in 1948 the site had been used as a cricket field. In fact the Chicago Cricket club did play on a green in this location.

Then there is the more interesting history. In days of yore a circus train was headed to its summer home in Baraboo, WI. A head-on collision killed three elephants. Two were buried in a cemetery near the crash site. There was no room for the third elephant named Cricket. The driver got lost and wound up next to a sink hole between Wilson and Montrose. There he met two life guards who went with the driver to a joint on Wilson Avenue. When they came back at 4:00 a.m. they found that another guard had inadvertently dumped Cricket’s into a sinkhole at the location. They quickly covered the corpse with a light layer of sand. Later in the morning the hole was completely filled in. Hence, Cricket Hill is an elephant grave, if you take on this story as the true one.

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