The Chicago Cubs are known for their classic ballpark, Wrigley Field, but many fans may not know that some of the best teams in the club’s history never played there. Prior to what became known as Wrigley Field the Cubs played at West Side Park, also known as West Side Grounds. There were two ballparks in the history of professional baseball in Chicago with this name, the first was the home of the team from 1885 through 1891. The team played at South Side Grounds for the next two seasons before moving into the newly built West Side Park on May 14, 1893. It was located between Polk, Lincoln, Wood and Taylor streets and had a seating capacity of 12,500 consisting of a single tier wooden grandstand. Like many ballparks during this time the ballpark caught fire during a game on August 5, 1894. Unlike most other ballparks that burnt the entire structure to the ground, only the first base grandstand was destroyed. The team roped off this area and continued to play here the remainder of the season as the section was rebuilt.
By the middle of the first decade of the 20th century Chicago became one of the best teams in the National League. Their success led to West Side Park to be expanded to seat 14,200 fans by the 1905. A covered section of rooftop seats was constructed around homeplate to first and third base. Another expansion in 1908 increased the capacity to 16,000 when the rooftop section was extended down the foul lines. During this time the team won four pennants (1906, ’07, ’08 and ’10) and won two World Series titles in 1907 and 1908. In 1906 the club won 116 games. By the start on the 1910s the ballpark was beginning to show it age. Across town, the American League Chicago White Sox opened the steel and concrete Comiskey Park. In 1913 the Federal League was founded, placing a new franchise, the Whales, in Chicago at the newly constructed Weeghman Park. This league collapsed following the 1915 and owner of the Whales, Charles Weeghman bought the Cubs moving them to his park (which later was renamed Wrigley Field) for the 1916 season. The Cubs played their final game at West Side Park on October 3, 1915. The ballpark hosted a number of events after the Cubs left before being demolished in 1920. Today the site is home to the University of Illinois medical center.