A Brief History of Garden State Park

Garden State Park was opened in 1942. The luxurious race track was constructed by developer Eugene Mori. With the popularity of the race track, Mori also built hotels. The Cherry Hill Inn, the Cherry Hill Lodge and the Rickshaw Inn. 

Across from the race track on Route 70 was the Latin Casino. The casino had a nightclub that hosted acts like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Frankie Avalon and Liberace. In the 1970s, Atlantic City’s Casinos were the place to be and the Latin Casino began to fail. It was eventually torn down in the 1980s after a fire damaged a good portion of it.

Picture copyright: wikipedia

Picture copyright: wikipedia

In 1977, a fire started in one of the kitchens in the Cherry Hill Race Track. The fire was able to be contained to the grandstand complex. Over 11,000 escaped the flames, but sadly 3 people lost their lives that day.

A trader named Robert Brennan helped financed the reconstruction. The race track reopened in 1985. Over the years, the race track held some important annual races that included: Gardenia Stakes, Jersey Derby, Trenton and Vineland Handicap.

As time went on the race track suffered. It never seemed to be as glamorous as it was in the past. Many people believed the final straw was when Governor Christie Todd Whitman vetoed a legislation that would have permitted slot machines at the track.

In 2001, after almost 60 years the track had its final race. In 2003 the property was sold, and demolished to create a town center.  To keep a portion of the history, the original gates still stand on the property.