Although Irving Park isn't within Sabin boundaries, many residents use the park's facilities. It's a safe bet that most folks are unaware of the park's history as a popular horse-racing track. Here's how it happened...
In 1865, Captain William Irving and his wife Elizabeth established a 635-acre land claim on the east side of the Willamette River. At that time, the area was mostly farms and forests.
After the Captain died in 1872, Elizabeth and her son sold off the eastern portion of the family's property. In 1887, she leased 90 acres to her nephew, W.S. Dixon, who then sub-leased it to the Multnomah Fair Association. The MFA constructed a horse-racing track, with grandstands and paddocks. The Irvington streetcar line, built in 1890 to link downtown to the eastside, provided easy access to the popular racetrack.
In 1905, there was a lawsuit over the betting operations at the track. After an extensive legal battle, Elizabeth regained control of the land, and in 1907, the racetrack was demolished. Soon after that, Elizabeth donated 14 acres to the city of Portland to establish Irving Park where the horse stables had once stood. Elizabeth died in 1922.